Geisinger Settles Toddler Death Case For $6.5M
WILKES-BARRE — The family of an 11-month-old boy who died of septic shock caused by an intestinal problem has settled a medical malpractice lawsuit against Geisinger Health System for $6.5 million, according to documents filed in court Friday.
The parents of Gunner John Carl Harowicz Hayes alleged in the complaint that the toddler died Sept. 2, 2015, after medical professionals failed to quickly diagnose a condition where part of the intestine telescopes into itself. A petition filed in court Friday says the family argued Gunner’s death was preventable if doctors had diagnosed and treated the condition in a timely manner.
The petition says the parties reached a $6.5 million settlement to resolve the case, with $2.7 million going to cover attorneys’ fees and expenses for the Kingston law firm Hourigan Kluger & Quinn, which represented the parents.
Luzerne County Judge William H. Amesbury approved the settlement in an order signed Friday.
Plaintiffs’ attorney Joseph A. Quinn Jr. said terms of the settlement prevented him from commenting on the case. Geisinger spokesman David Jolley released a brief statement about the resolution.
“We have agreed to an amicable settlement in the lawsuit regarding the death of Gunner Hayes, and sympathize with the Hayes family on the loss of their son,” Jolley said.
According to the petition, Gunner’s parents, Rebecca J. Harowicz and Kevin T. Hayes Jr. of Parsons, brought the child to Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center in Plains Twp. the night of Sept. 1, 2015, because he had diarrhea for two days and had been vomiting for three.
The petition says it took nearly a full day before doctors diagnosed his condition and decided to transfer him to the Janet Weis Children’s Hospital in Danville. And despite knowing that Gunner was having a medical emergency, Geisinger doctors failed to order a Life Flight — they instead dispatched a Trans-Med Ambulance, which departed “without lights and sirens activated,” according to the petition.
Upon arrival at the facility in Danville, Gunner was “agitated and grunting,” with a racing heart beat, according to the document. As medics transferred him from a car seat to a hospital bed, he became unresponsive and flat-lined.
After performing life-saving measures, doctors pronounced Gunner dead at 11:46 p.m. Sept. 2, 2015, according to the petition. The cause of death was ruled septic shock due to the intestinal condition and dehydration.
According to the petition, the condition is “the most common cause of intestinal obstruction in children between 3 months and 6 years.”
“(The parents) have, at all times, alleged that Gunner’s injuries, suffering and death were preventable had the defendants provided timely and appropriate medical evaluation, diagnosis, monitoring and care,” the petition says.