Family Members React To $9 Million Award In Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Published: Aug. 2, 2006 at 3:18 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 21, 2006 at 9:23 PM EDT
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By Connie Leonard

(LOUISVILLE) -- A major award in a wrongful death case came Tuesday afternoon.  A Louisville jury ordered University Hospital to pay more than $9 million to a Meade County family. It has been a three-year battle for the family who lost a wife and mother to what the jury decided was the hospital's negligence. WAVE 3 Investigator Connie Leonard has reaction to the verdict from family members and hospital officials.

"Maybe it will save a life." That's the take of Michael Beglin, almost three years after he filed a wrongful death lawsuit against University Hospital and two doctors in the death of his wife, Jennifer.

Beglin finally feels her justice has arrived but, more importantly that it may help other families like his.

"I think some things need to change at University of Louisville Hospital," Beglin said. "I think they are going to after this verdict."

As for how his wife would react to the verdict, Beglin says: "I think she'd be very happy."

The hope for change is coming to the tune of $9,000,047. During a four-week court battle, Beglin's attorney, Jack Conway, told the jury about the 40-year-old mom of two, a systems analyst at Louisville's YUM brands, who was scheduled for a routine rectal surgery on July 14th 2003.

Court documents showed Jennifer Beglin had a history of bleeding problems. But, Conway told jurors there was no documentation of what blood would be needed or when for Beglin, and evidence proved numerous calls were made for blood work and doctors were heard screaming "Get me the blood!" while Beglin laid dying on the operating table, one floor above the blood bank.

Jennifer Beglin came out of surgery in a coma and three months later with severe brain damage. Her family had to make the heartbreaking decision to let her go.

In the end, Conway says finger pointing let the jury decide who the victim was.

"The hospital was saying that the doctors should have ordered blood earlier and the doctors were saying the blood was delayed when they called for it."

The jury believed the hospital, not the doctors, was 100 percent responsible.

Jennifer Beglin's 18-year-old son William says it was hard to hear about the problems going on while his mom was in surgery.  "There were way too many mistakes for us to just let go."

His 16-year-old sister, Kelly, told Wave 3 News: "It's been a long journey with a bittersweet end, and a  fight they hope their mom would be proud of. She would be happy that we can now go where we want to college and I think in the end it is justice for her."

The $9 million award is a figure the jury chose independently, citing things like Jennifer Beglin's' lost earning power, family medical bills and $1.5 million for each of her children.

The 12-person jury deliberated all day Friday, Monday and most of Tuesday before reaching its verdict.

After the verdict was made public, University Hospital sent us this statement: "We respectfully disagree with decision by the jury. We do not believe the facts support this decision and we will appeal this verdict. Unfortunately, no one truly wins in these situations, and our sympathy goes out to the Beglin family and all the defendants during this very difficult time.

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Online Reporter: Connie Leonard

Online Producer: Michael Dever