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Scardina v. Colletti

OCTOBER 14, 1965.

PETER SCARDINA, ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF JOSEPH SCARDINA, DECEASED, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

DR. MICHAEL J. COLLETTI, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE, AND NORWEGIAN AMERICAN HOSPITAL, A HOSPITAL CORPORATION, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



Appeal from the Superior Court of Cook County; the Hon. LEONARD J. JAKES, Judge, presiding. Affirmed in part, reversed in part and cause remanded with directions.

MR. PRESIDING JUSTICE DEMPSEY DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT.

The plaintiff, Peter Scardina, administrator of the estate of Joseph Scardina, deceased, brings this appeal from the judgment entered on the court-directed verdict finding the defendants "not guilty" at the close of the plaintiff's evidence.

Two issues are presented to this court by this appeal: whether the motion for a directed verdict was properly granted, and whether error was committed in refusing to allow the plaintiff to amend his complaint.

The complaint charged Michael J. Colletti, a doctor, with negligently operating on Joseph Scardina in that the doctor failed to ligate a severed blood vessel which resulted in profuse internal bleeding and required a reoperation by another physician. The Norwegian American Hospital was charged with negligently failing to provide adequate lighting facilities and proper equipment in its operating room.

At the trial four witnesses testified: Peter Scardina, the deceased's son; Doctor Colletti, the defendant; Doctor Lichtenstein, who re-operated on the patient, and a woman who took care of him after he came home from the hospital.

Peter Scardina testified that on March 5, 1959, he took his 50 year old father to the Norwegian American Hospital for a hernia operation. At about 7:00 or 8:00 p.m. on March 6, 1959, he received a call from a nurse summoning him to the hospital. Upon entering a room he saw Doctor Colletti and Doctor Lichtenstein conversing. He heard Lichtenstein ask: "What happened," and Colletti answer: "There wasn't enough lighting, it was dark in there. I must have cut a blood vessel."

Doctor Colletti was called as a witness under section 60 of the Civil Practice Act. He testified that he had operated on Joseph Scardina in 1952 for a right inguinal hernia and that his condition following the operation was very good. In February 1959 he examined Joseph who complained of a swelling bulge in his left inguinal region. Doctor Colletti had him admitted to the Norwegian American Hospital on March 5th and operated on him the next morning.

Doctor Colletti denied making the remark related by Peter Scardina. He testified that the operating room was like any other operating room with adequate lights, "an overhead light with a strong beam that hits into the operative field," plus any number of lights which could be spotted in different directions as needed. An intern assisted in the operation. He was under Doctor Colletti's direction and control at all times. During the operation blood vessels were cut, as is always done in surgery. Any vessel that was cut was clamped and then ligated. If a cut blood vessel faced Colletti, he tied it; if one faced the intern, he tied it, but under Colletti's supervision. After correcting the hernia and determining that the surgical field was dry, the doctor closed the wound. The plaintiff's attorney examined the doctor on those points:

"Q [Y]ou have the final determination as to whether all of these [blood vessels] are actually tied off before you close the wound?

A That's right.

Q And in your opinion this wound was dry indicating no bleeding out of any of these veins before you closed the wound?

A That's right, sir.

Q Is it possible, Doctor, that one of these veins was cut ...


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