Widow sues medical center for $5 million

Posted: August 3, 2013

The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — The widow of Warren County’s longtime commissioner of the revenue is suing Winchester Medical Center for $5 million.

John H. Smedley died on Aug. 25, 2012, in Winchester Medical Center after quadruple-bypass surgery. He was 64.

According to the suit — filed on Friday in Winchester Circuit Court by Doris Smedley, administrator of her late husband’s estate — less than 12 hours after the surgery, Smedley went into cardiac arrest.

“Upon information and belief, [Dr. Kenneth Saum] was called to the [intensive care unit] and he began cardiac massage before taking Mr. Smedley back to the operating room for repair of bleeding graft branch,” the suit states.

The cardiac arrest, however, left him without sufficient oxygen delivery to his brain and he was “declared brain-dead” on Aug. 23, 2012.

He was pronounced dead two days later.

In addition to Winchester Medical Center, the suit names Valley Health as a defendant. The health-care system includes WMC and five other hospitals in Virginia and West Virginia.

“Valley Health’s policy is to not comment on pending legal action,” Carol Weare, public relations manager for the health system, said on Friday.

The lawsuit alleges negligence on the part of “agents, servants and or employees” of the defendants who rendered medical care to Smedley.

It states that the defendants failed to appropriately assess Smedley’s clinical postoperative status and to initiate appropriate medical and/or nursing interventions in response to his declining clinical status, among other things.

“As a direct and proximate result of the negligence and or wrongful acts and or omissions of the defendants, individually and or through their agents, servants and or employees, the next of kin of the decedent have suffered sorrow, mental anguish, solace and loss of society, companionship, comfort and guidance,” the suit states.

The suit also states that Smedley’s relatives incurred medical expenses, burial expenses, loss of income, loss of services, protection, care and assistance “expected to be performed by [Smedley].”

Smedley served as Warren County’s commissioner of the revenue for 24 years and as the county’s assessor before that.

A Republican, he last won re-election in November 2011. He ran unopposed and received about 99 percent of the vote.

He was a lifelong county resident and was active in a number of organizations, including the Izaak Walton League and the Warren County Republican Committee.

— Contact Melissa Boughton at mboughton@winchesterstar.com