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Family claimed doctor removed girl too soon from ventilator






New Jersey


Monmouth County


Monmouth County Superior Court

Injury Type(s):

brain-brain damage cardiac-cardiac arrest mental/psychological-cognition; impairment

Case Type:

Medical Malpractice – Brain Injuries, Post-Operative Care

Case Name:

Richard Heaney and Kristen Heaney, individually and as the parents of Kelsey Heaney v. Jersey Shore University Medical Center, Dr. Charles K. Dadzie, and Meridian Pediatric Associates, Bruce J. Grossman, M.D., Anitha James, M.D., Sara Scheller, RN,
No. MON-L-5915-10


October 26, 2017



Kelsey Heaney (Female, 7 Years), 

Kristen Heaney

Richard Heaney

Plaintiff Attorney(s):

Paul A. Lauricella;
McLaughlin & Lauricella, P.C.;
Mount Laurel,
Kelsey Heaney, Kristen Heaney, Richard Heaney ■ Slade H. McLaughlin;
McLaughlin & Lauricella, P.C.;
Mount Laurel,
Kelsey Heaney, Kristen Heaney, Richard Heaney


Anitha James, 

Sara Scheller, 

Bruce J. Grossman, 

Charles K. Dadzie, 

Jean Clerks Henryz, 

Meridian Pediatric Associates, 

Jersey Shore University Medical Center

Defense Attorney(s):

Herbert Kruttschnitt III;
CNA Insurance Company;
Sara Scheller ■ Richard A. Amdur Jr.;
Amdur, Maggs & Shor, PC;
Jersey Shore University Medical Center ■ Timothy M. Crammer;
Crammer, Bishop, Marczyk & O’Brien, PC;
Meridian Pediatric Associates ■ Maryann Nobile Wilderotter;
Ronan, Tuzzio & Giannone, P.C.;
Tinton Falls,
Anitha James, Bruce J. Grossman, Charles K. Dadzie

Defendant Expert(s):

Jeffrey Burns;
Pediatric Critical Care;
MA called by:
Herbert Kruttschnitt III, Richard A. Amdur Jr., Timothy M. Crammer, Maryann Nobile Wilderotter


On March 15, 2008, plaintiff Kelsey Heaney, 7, was admitted to Jersey Shore University Medical Center, in Neptune, suffering from pneumonia. She had surgery to remove a small portion of tissue from her lung, performed by Dr. Charles Dadzie. She was then was placed on a ventilator. While she was on the ventilator she was sedated and was attended by Dadzie, a pediatric pulmonologist. After 10 days, he supervised her removal from the ventilator. She was still sedated at the time, and her heart stopped. She was in acute distress for at least 35 minutes, during which time she suffered brain damage. Richard and Kristen Heaney, individually and as parents of Kelsey, sued Jersey Shore University Medical Center, Dadzie, and his practice, Meridian Pediatric Associates. Also sued were several of the hospital’s medical staff but they were dismissed. The Heaneys alleged that Dadzie was negligent in prematurely removing Kelsey from the ventilator. He failed to properly wean Kelsey off sedation, and then failed to adequately watch her to ensure she started breathing on her own. The Heaneys’ medical experts testified that Dadzie missed signs that Kelsey was not ready to be taken off the ventilator, and in any case she should not have been under sedation when she was removed. The defense counsel presented expert testimony that the decision to extubate Kelsey was within the standard of care. The experts also testified that Kelsey’s care after extubation, including management of her airway, resuscitation, and post resuscitation state in the hours after her unexpected cardiac arrest, were all within accepted medical standards.


When Kelsey experienced cardiac arrest and breathing loss, it took three electroconvulsive shocks to restore her heartbeat and breathing. During those 35 minutes she suffered damage to the thalamus region of her brain, which processes information from the senses to the cerebral cortex. By the time of trial, Kelsey was 16. Her greatest residual injury is processing deficiencies. She struggles with memory deficits, and with things that most 16-year-olds routinely do every day. An instance of this was evident at trial, when she was called to testify: she was told to raise her right hand to be sworn in, but she raised her left hand. Kelsey has undergone significant therapy in attempts to improve her condition and learn how to live with her cognitive disabilities. She is accompanied to school by a paraprofessional, who remains with her throughout the school day. She will require similar support throughout her life. The defense counsel challenged the claim that all of Kelsey’s difficulties, particularly academic, were related to the medical incident.


The jury found for the Heaneys and awarded $17 million in damages. Dadzie, Meridian Pediatric Associates, and Jersey Shore University Medical Center were found jointly and severally liable.

Kelsey Heaney: $2,000,000 Personal Injury: Future Lost Earnings Capability; $5,000,000 Personal Injury: pain and suffering; $10,000,000 Personal Injury: medical expenses

Trial Information:


Katie A. Gummer

Trial Length:


Trial Deliberations:


Jury Vote:


Editor’s Comment:

This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiffs’ counsel. Defense counsel declined to contribute.