Morrison Mahoney partner Ted Murphy secured a decision in favor of our client — the prime designer and builder of the nation’s submarine fleet – in a wrongful death case brought under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Act. Plaintiff alleged that her husband’s death was hastened by the long-term effects of his numerous work-related orthopedic injuries that required him to take a disability retirement in his early 40’s. Plaintiff engaged a noted nephrology expert who testified that the decedent’s orthopedic injuries caused him to become immobile, obese, diabetic, and eventually develop coronary artery disease and kidney failure, which caused his death. The decedent’s treating physicians agreed. The decedent’s wife and sister gave emotional testimony about the decline in his physical and mental health in the years following his injuries.
Notwithstanding the serious nature of the injuries and sympathy issues, Ted, with the assistance of a large medical file and effective use of our client’s skilled internal medicine expert, was able to demonstrate that the decedent maintained a satisfactory level of health that would have allowed for modest, but adequate, exercise. Ted was able to prove to the federal judge hearing the case that the decedent’s weight gain, development of obesity-related diseases and death were the result of poor dietary choices, excessive alcohol consumption, and poor compliance with dialysis, medications and fluid restriction advice given by the treating doctors. Following higher court precedent Ted created in a similar case several years ago, the judge, in a 25-page, single-spaced opinion, rejected the claim, including the nephrologist’s secondary opinion that the decedent’s prolonged use of anti-inflammatory medications for his work injuries also contributed to his kidney failure and death.