WILKES-BARRE — An undisclosed settlement was reached Monday in a medical malpractice lawsuit between the family of a young doctor and the health care provider alleged to have erred in treating a condition that ultimately claimed her life.
Dr. Jennifer Sidari, 26, died in 2013 of a brain hemorrhage at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, where lawyers for the West Pittston native’s family allege a systemic breakdown among medical professionals cut short the life of a newly minted doctor with the potential to thrive in the medical field.
Luzerne County Judge Lesa S. Gelb dismissed the jury of six men and six women just after 11 a.m. Monday after announcing lawyers had reached a resolution in the case, abruptly ending a trial that was expected to last several weeks and feature the testimony of potentially hundreds of witnesses.
Geisinger attorney Mark T. Perry, one of several lawyers retained in the case by the health care provider, said he was pleased the lawsuit had been resolved, but declined to comment on terms of the settlement or what prompted the sudden resolution as he left court.
As abbreviated as it was, enduring the details of his daughter’s death during trial was nevertheless “difficult and painful,” Sidari’s father, Peter Sidari, said outside the courtroom next to his wife, Patricia Sidari.
“We’re just extremely relieved everything is over and we’re looking forward to getting on with life,” he said.
Their lawyer, attorney Matt Casey of Philadelphia law firm Ross Feller Casey LLP, said he was fortunate to have worked with the Sidari family on behalf of their daughter, whom he only got to know through the details of the case.
Casey said he was unable to discuss terms of the settlement, which remained undisclosed Monday.
A top graduate of The Commonwealth Medical College in Scranton, Sidari was recruited by Geisinger Health System and was slated to begin residency training in pediatrics at the Janet Weis Children’s Hospital in Danville two months after her death. Had she gone on to enjoy a long career, Sidari had the potential to earn millions, Casey argued.
Throughout its defense, Geisinger maintained the care provided to Sidari was acceptable and in accordance with medical standards. A Geisinger doctor and two physician assistants offered their perspective in testimony late last week, with a main point of contention focusing on head-imaging scans that were alleged to have been ordered too late.
Geisinger physician assistant Gloria Yablonsky-Pombo opened testimony Wednesday following lengthy opening arguments. Part of the hospital’s neurological team on May 28, the day before Sidari died, Yablonsky-Pombo testified there were indicators Sidari should have had the scans completed far sooner than they occurred.
The timing of the scans would remain a key topic the remainder of the week.
On the second day of testimony Thursday, Casey questioned Dr. Jessica Zingaretti, the attending physician that ultimately ordered Sidari’s scans two days after Sidari arrived at Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center in Plains Township.
The scans took more than two hours to happen, “far too long” for the sake of Zingaretti’s patient, Casey argued.
Zingaretti, who remained on the witness stand the remainder of Thursday and all of the following day, disputed a delay.
“There wasn’t a delay,” Zingaretti said Thursday. “I was continuing to work off of what was going on.”
Friday morning, Zingaretti drew accusations from Casey she spoke to Geisinger attorneys overnight, in violation of Gelb’s order the previous day. Zingaretti acknowledged she spoke to a lawyer, but she assured the judge she didn’t talk about the case or her testimony.
Now that the ordeal is resolved, the Sidari family will return home to put the pieces back together, Peter Sidari said.
“We go home to some pleasant memories of Jen and regroup,” he said. “We’re going to regroup.”
Reach Joe Dolinsky at 570-991-6110 or on Twitter @JoeDolinskyTL