COURTS

Family of Dick Schaap Awarded $1.95 Million

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Saturday, July 2, 2005

A Manhattan jury awarded the family of the late award-winning sports journalist Dick Schaap $1.95 million after finding that he died as a result of medical negligence following hip replacement surgery at a New York hospital.

The jurors found that three doctors were negligent in treating Schaap at Lenox Hill Hospital, where he died at 67 on Dec. 21, 2001, but they found that the negligence of just one, Neil L. Coplan , led to Schaap's death.

The jury, which deliberated nine days in Manhattan's State Supreme Court after a three-week trial, awarded Schaap's estate $1 million; his wife Trish McLeod Schaap , $500,000; his son David , $325,000, and his daughter Karen , $125,000.

The panel's verdict means Coplan must pay the entire award.

Trish Schaap said the trial was "hard-fought" but it was worth it. She agreed with her attorney's statement that the case was not really about money.

Mark J. Aaronson , an attorney for the doctors, said he would appeal and he predicted that the verdict would be overturned. Aaronson also represented Lenox Hill, but the lawsuit against the hospital was dismissed before the trial.

The Schaap family's attorney, Thomas Moore , argued during trial that because the sports columnist and broadcaster had been taking powerful medication -- amiodarone -- for a non-life-threatening heart condition for two years, he was suffering from lung damage.

Moore said amiodarone is known to cause pulmonary toxicity. He said the doctors should have postponed Schaap's hip replacement surgery, taken him off amiodarone and given his lungs time to heal because a preoperative chest X-ray revealed he had lung damage. The surgery was performed on Sept. 19, 2001.

-- From News Services


© 2005 The Washington Post Company

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