Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

A jury awarded a collective $1.75 million to two siblings who alleged doctors at UCLA Medical Center committed medical malpractice that resulted in the death of their 44-year-old mother in 2013.

The Los Angeles Superior Court jury deliberated for less than a day before finding in favor of Ryan and Jessica Larkin, who were in their late teens when their mother, Deborah Larkin, died on Dec. 27, 2013. The Larkins sued the Regents of the University of California in December 2014.

Lawyers for the Larkins maintained in their court papers that the doctors who treated Deborah Larkin were negligent in performing a hiatal hernia repair surgery and that they failed to diagnose and treat a stomach perforation. The surgery occurred in November 2013, but the woman’s condition never improved over the next month, according to the plaintiffs’ lawyers court papers.

Defense attorneys argued that the doctors’ actions met the proper standard of medical care.

The Larkins’ lead attorney, Gary Schneider, said that despite the jury verdict amount Friday, state law since 1975 has placed a cap of $250,000 on pain and suffering damages in cases involving medical malpractice such as the Larkins’ lawsuit. He said he expects the defense to bring a motion to reduce the jury’s verdict to $250,000 and that Judge Victor Chavez will have no choice but to grant it.

Schneider said jurors were not allowed to hear about the cap during the trial, but that they were “shocked and outraged” when he told them about it after the verdict. He said the cap is unfair to plaintiffs such as his clients, but that legislators, both Democratic and Republican, have done nothing to change it since Gov. Jerry Brown signed it into law during his first term in office.

–City News Service

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