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Lawsuit claims reversal of sedation killed Pennsylvania man

A wrongful-death and medical malpractice lawsuit claims that Pennsylvania State Police troopers conspired with a doctor and a nurse to reverse a man's sedation for the purpose of making him available to be arraigned in court. These actions, which the man's father claims had no beneficial medical purpose, had tragic consequences, leading to the man's death.

The lawsuit asserts that the troopers physically assaulted the man after they stopped a vehicle he was riding in. They then transported him to Chester Medical Center. The troopers allegedly asked medical personnel there to reverse the injured man's medically induced sedation so that they could take him to court in a conscious condition. In response, repeated doses of Narcan and Flumazenil were allegedly administered. The result was instead his death, which the lawsuit states was preventable.

A federal judge declined requests by the defendants to dismiss conspiracy charges in the lawsuit, finding that there were sufficient factual allegations to support the claim. The alleged facts, if true, the judge held, could support claims for punitive damages based on "deliberate and outrageous conduct." He also declined to grant the defendants' motion to dismiss claims for punitive damages from the lawsuit.

Defendants in the case include a doctor who supervised the man's care (and made the decision to accede to the request to reverse his sedation), a nurse involved in his treatment, the state troopers, and the former Pennsylvania State Police commissioner who was in office at the time of the incident.

The lawsuit was initially filed by the deceased man's father in August of last year, and amended twice since then to include more defendants and claims.

Source: Courthouse News Service, "Dad Can Sue For Fatal Sedation Reversal," Erin McAuley, March 14, 2012

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