Nearly $1M Awarded in Wrongful Death

Originally published April 04, 2006
By Kate Leckie
News-Post Staff

FREDERICK — A Frederick County Circuit Court jury has awarded $935,000 to the family of a Thurmont man who died about two weeks after having his gallbladder removed at Frederick Memorial Hospital on Aug. 7, 2002.

Deliberating about eight hours following a nine-day medical malpractice trial, the jury of four men and two women found that nurse Abu Kamara and Dr. Steven Nagel violated adequate standards of care for Lester Moser. They reached their verdict about 10 p.m. Friday.

The jury only placed damages against Mr. Kamara and his employer, OMV Medical Inc., ruling that it was the nurse’s failure to keep Dr. Nagel informed of the patient’s worsening condition that led to Mr. Moser’s fatal injuries, according to documents filed at the Frederick County Courthouse.

Mr. Kamara failed to contact Dr. Nagel about three key factors: that Mr. Moser was complaining of severe pain Aug. 9, 2002; that a tube needed for suctioning was not inserted in a timely fashion; and that the patient had vomited.

Transferred to Johns Hopkins Hospital on Aug. 21, 2002, Mr. Moser died two days later of sepsis and organ failure, court documents state.

Mr. Moser, a lifelong Frederick County resident, was 79 when he died.

Virginia Moser filed the wrongful death suit Sept. 16, 2003, about a year after her husband’s death from complications arising from the elective surgery.

Citing her husband’s conscious pain and suffering, funeral and burial expenses, the suit sought more than $100,000 in damages for the death of her husband of 56 years and the father of her three grown children.

The jury awarded $55,000 for past expenses related to Mr. Moser’s medical care; $500,000 in noneconomic damages to his estate; $250,000 in damages to his wife; and $130,000 total in damages to his children.

Contacted Monday by telephone, Ms. Moser had little to say about the trial that ended years of legal maneuvering. “It was hard,” she said.

Son Wayne Moser said the family was satisfied with the verdict.

“We’re not the type to sue, but we were upset with the way my father’s care at the hospital was handled,” Mr. Moser said. “You put your family member in the hospital, and something horrible like this happens.

“This has been a great loss for our family,” he said.

John J. Sellinger, the lawyer representing the Mosers, said the family was gratified that the jury found in their favor.

“It’s been difficult emotionally for them to relive such a painful event. I never met him, but Lester Moser sounds like he was a wonderful man,” said Mr. Sellinger of the Silver Spring office of Greenburg & Bederman. “They’re really good people.”

Mr. Moser’s obituary referred to an upbringing on the family’s farm and time spent in the orchard.

He also worked as a school bus driver and rural letter carrier.

Mr. Kamara and OMV Medical Inc. of Takoma Park were represented by Stephen J. Cullen of Miles & Stockbridge in Towson. A phone call seeking comment Monday was not returned.

Before the case went to trial, Dr. Kevin Hurtt, who performed Mr. Moser’s surgery, and Frederick Memorial Hospital were dropped as defendants.

Judge G. Edward Dwyer Jr. presided over the civil trial.