HOUSTON (CN) - In a horrible, Rube Goldberg-type lawsuit, a family claims a nurse dropped a patient trying to get him into a heart testing machine, breaking his collar bone and shoulder blade and triggering his fatal heart attack.
Jasper Vitale's survivors sued Hall-Garcia Cardiology Associates in Harris County Court.
Hall-Garcia Cardiology Associates, the self-styled "premiere cardiology group in Houston," began treating Vitale on Nov. 15, 2011 when an echocardiogram confirmed he had suffered a heart attack, his family says.
Vitale returned to Hall-Garcia's clinic two weeks later for a nuclear stress test, which measures a heart's blood flow.
"As the Hall-Garcia employee, nurse, attempted to place Mr. Vitale on the machine, Mr. Vitale was dropped onto the floor by nurse and injured his left shoulder and rib cage area," the complaint states.
"Mr. Vitale was immediately transported to St. Luke's Hospital by ambulance, where he received emergency medical care and treatment. It was later discovered by Dr. Phan that Mr. Vitale had fractured his left scapula, his left clavicle, and had a torn rotator cuff.
"After a significant clinical discourse designed to treat Mr. Vitale's injured left side, he died of a heart attack."
Vitale was 68.
His family lays the blame for his death squarely on Hall-Garcia Associates, claiming the clinic never followed up with him after his calamitous injuries.
His family seeks damages for negligence and lost income as Vitale "was the head of their family restaurant, Big Humphrey's Pizza and Italian Restaurant."
They are represented by J.P. Davis of Houston.
Hall-Garcia Cardiology Associates did not respond to a request for comment.
Rube Goldberg was a cartoonist famous for drawing complicated, unusual results of apparently minor actions.