Negligence Jury Undecided Over Westminster Doctor

Two Other Defendants In Case Exonerated

March 04, 1992|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff writer

WESTMINSTER — A Carroll Circuit Court jury could not decide whether a Westminster doctor was negligent and contributed to the death of a Manchester woman.

The jury of seven men and five women deliberated for almost two days before reaching verdicts in the $2.5 million lawsuit filed in 1989 by George Simpers against John S. Harshey of Anchor Street, Randallstown neurologist Solomon D. Robbins and Baltimore neurosurgeon Fred N. Sugar.

The jury -- which came back late Monday afternoon -- could not reach a decision on Harshey.

But Robbins and Sugar were not found tohave been negligent in their treatment of Bertie Simpers, who died from a brain aneurysm after decades of debilitating headaches and chronic back and leg problems. In the suit, Simpers claimed that his wife's 1985 death at Baltimore's Mercy Hospital was caused by the negligence of the three doctors.

Jurors were deadlocked, 6-6, over whether Harshey negligently contributed to Bertie Simpers' death, said William Burgy, the Baltimore attorney who represented Simpers.

"To sayI'm disappointed is an understatement," said Burgy. "But we have a number of options. We feel there may be a basis for an appeal for the verdicts returned for Drs. Robbins and Sugar, and we might retry the case against Dr. Harshey."

The trial, heard before Circuit Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr., began Feb. 19 and included the testimony of more than a dozen specialists in neurology and general medicine.

It wasthe second attempt at a trial; a previous one began last Nov. 18 butwas declared a mistrial by then-presiding Circuit Judge Luke K. Burns Jr. after an attorney disagreed with the method of jury selection.

Burgy argued in the suit that the doctors "negligently failed to order or perform . . . tests and procedures in a timely manner."

Ananeurysm is an enlargement of an artery, vein or blood vessel that, if ruptured, can cause death.

Bertie Simpers had a history of headaches dating to the mid-1960s.

A fall down a staircase resulted inchiropractic treatment for five or six weeks, testimony showed.

Harshey admitted her to Carroll County General Hospital in 1985 for three days after she complained that her back and right leg were in severe pain and that she "felt like someone hit her head with an ax."

Robbins and Sugar were called into the case in March 1985, after herheadaches reappeared. Robbins consulted Sugar after Bertie Simpers was admitted to Baltimore County General Hospital.

Sugar performed a test that showed the brain aneurysm, but Bertie Simpers died several days later at Mercy Hospital, where she was scheduled to have surgery.

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