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Medical Malpractice Dispute Heads to Supreme Court

Florida Supreme Court
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

The estate of a woman who died while undergoing surgery for a tumor in her skull will ask the Florida Supreme Court to take up a lawsuit against an anesthesiologist who evaluated her before surgery.

Attorneys for the estate of Maria Elena Espinosa filed a notice of appeal Wednesday in the Supreme Court, two weeks after a divided 3rd District Court of Appeal ruled in favor of anesthesiologist Arturo Lorenzo.

The notice, as is common, did not detail arguments that will be made at the Supreme Court. But the 3rd District Court of Appeal, in a 2-1 decision Aug. 9, upheld a Miami-Dade County circuit judge's directed verdict for Lorenzo.

The case stemmed from the 2009 death of the 45-year-old Espinosa, whose estate sued two anesthesiologists, two neurosurgeons and an internist, according to the appeals court.

Lorenzo conducted a pre-anesthesia evaluation of Espinosa, who later died on the operating table of what the appeals-court majority opinion said was exsanguination, which involves blood loss.

The case focused, in part, on whether Lorenzo properly considered an abnormal electrocardiogram in the evaluation. But the majority said Lorenzo had acted properly and that another anesthesiologist also conducted an evaluation before the surgery.

The appeals court said the other anesthesiologist and the internist settled before trial, while the jury returned a verdict against the two neurosurgeons in the case.