The Expert: Dr. Alexander Marmureanu, a California-based thoracic and cardiovascular surgeon, testifies for the plaintiff on his belief that the accident victim would have lived a normal life expectancy, but for the crash.
In a 2019 wrongful death trial involving a driver who died after colliding with a big rig that was allegedly illegally parked, Dr. Alexander Marmureanu, a thoracic and cardiovascular surgeon from Los Angeles, testifies for the plaintiff on his belief that the accident victim would have lived a normal life expectancy, but for the crash.
The doctor gives testimony in response to previous statements by the defense expert that the victim would have developed diabetes within 5 to 10 years, and would have had a heart attack within 7 to 10 years of the time of the crash and thus was likely to have had a significantly shorter life span. This, according to the theory, would have meant that he would have had a heart attack between 32 and 35 years of age. However, Marmureanu demonstrably disagrees with this assessment, stating that in his opinion, the victim would have lived a normal lifespan to the age of 75 or 77 years.
To support his assessment, Marmureanu discusses the accident victim’s medical records. In 2010, the deceased saw a doctor three times after being hospitalized as a result of a motorcycle accident. A chest X-ray had been performed as a screen after the accident. Presenting the X-ray and describing what a doctor would look for after a trauma like this, the expert points out that there was no pneumothorax (or collapsed lung), no broken ribs, and no pleural effusion. Marmureanu tells jurors he believes that this film showed a completely normal patient under the circumstances. If the heart was abnormal, the cardiac silhouette was likely to be enlarged if the patient had symptoms of heart disease. The chart also recorded the treating physician’s general examination of the patient. As Marmureanu states, “Nobody knows him better than his treating physician.” He points out that the patient has no complaint related to his cardiovascular system and the physical examination does not reveal any abnormalities. Specifically, the expert addresses each category: cardiac size, heart rate and rhythm, pulses, and heart sounds are all normal. There is nothing about the heart listed as abnormal in this record.
If a person like this was expected to have significant heart disease within 7 to 10 years, the doctor would “absolutely not” expect to find that everything would be normal like this. “He would be sick, he would have symptoms”, and some part of the intake history and physical would reveal an abnormality.
The jury apparently agreed, returning a verdict for the plaintiff and an award of $11.05 million.
Gary Gansar, MD, is residency-trained in general surgery. He served as Chief of Surgery and Staff at Elmwood Medical Center and on the Medical Executive Committee at Touro Infirmary and Mercy Hospital in New Orleans, LA. Dr. Gansar was Board Certified in general surgery while in active practice. He joined AMFS in 2015 as a Physician Medical Director.
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