In January, 2008, a Cleveland hospital patient, one Edward Balcerzak, was recovering from surgery. He choked on the material regurgitated from his stomach, and this interfered with breathing to the point where his brain was damaged, and he later died.

The Balcerzak family has filed a lawsuit against two doctors and the University of Ohio (OU). The two doctors worked for the OU college of Osteopathic Medicine, teaching medical residents. Because of this, they may not be individually liable for Balcerzak’s death.

One of the doctors has been an OU faculty member since 1985 and the other since 2004. Under Ohio’s current system, they can be granted immunity because they are employed by the state. Therefore medical malpractice claims involving them must go the Ohio Court of Claims, where all legal action against state agencies is handled.

It was in 2007 that the Ohio Supreme Court introduced the concept of immunity for state employees. It places greater financial burdens on the state, since the doctors’ own malpractice insurance need not be drawn upon. Now the Ohio Court of Claims will confirm whether or not the two doctors are indeed immune, and if they are, the state of Ohio will be held responsible for Balcerzak’s death.

In case the doctors are declared not immune, the Balcerzak family has filed another claim against the doctors’ private practices.

Medical malpractice lawsuits are usually quite complex and time-consuming. In this particular case, the concept of immunity for state employees is adding another level of complexity. If you have a loved one who was injured or killed in a medical setting, and are wondering whether you have a legal claim, please contact our office for a free consultation. It’s our job to sort through complications like this immunity factor, and there can be many such hurdles in the course of a medical malpractice lawsuit. Give us the legal work, so you can focus on supporting your loved one, or recovering from injury yourself.