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October 12, 2012

In Our Opinion: There were no winners in Fox lawsuit


A dictionary defines it as “a malicious satisfaction obtained from the misfortunes of others.”

We have been a bit surprised — and somewhat disappointed — in some of the local reaction since it was learned last week that Oneonta’s A.O. Fox Memorial Hospital had gotten clobbered in a lawsuit to the tune of a $126 million.

In what is believed to be the largest civil judgment in local history, a state Supreme Court jury awarded Debora Sohl, a 51-year-old woman from Oneonta, all that money to cover her past pain and future medical needs.

Her attorney. James Linnan of Albany, said Sohl has lost at least 70 percent of her heart’s pumping capacity and will need a heart transplant within six years. The jury decided Sohl’s condition is largely the fault of medical personnel in the Fox emergency room.

Linnan said Sohl arrived at the emergency room at 9:36 a.m. on Jan. 26, 2009 with a “crushing chest pain,” and it was not until about 2 p.m. that she was examined by an emergency room doctor and given an electrocardiogram. Linnan said Sohl was given anti-anxiety medication and admitted overnight without being treated for a heart condition.

“There was testimony in the case that she was the victim of age and gender bias,” Linnan told The Daily Star. To the Fox emergency room staffers, he said, “she was just some anxious female — and God knows females don’t have heart attacks.”

As a lawyer who just won a massive suit, Linnan can possibly be forgiven for spiking the football and doing a little dance in the end zone.

But several comments from readers of The Daily Star’s online version of the story have reveled in Fox’s misfortune, using the incident as an indication of rampant ineptitude and incompetence at the hospital. 

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