WILKES-BARRE — Even as a court hearing was under way to reach an agreement on several pretrial issues Monday, attorneys for Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center and lawyers for the family of a 26-year-old West Pittston woman whose family is suing the facility over her death last year were sparring via competing media statements.
Jennifer Sidari, who graduated on May 11 from the first class of The Commonwealth Medical College in Scranton, died on May 29 in Geisinger Medical Center, Danville, where she was to begin her first year of residency as a pediatrician last July.
Sidari’s family alleges a series of errors, compounded by short staffing, led to her death from a blood clot in the brain after it was not diagnosed promptly.
Lawyers for the Sidari family and Geisinger appeared before Luzerne County Judge Tina Polachek Gartley on Monday to argue their points on three motions in the case, in short:
• Both sides presented motions seeking the release of documents and items related to the case. Family attorney Matthew A. Casey, of Philadelphia-based Ross Feller Casey, LLP, explained that the parties reached an agreement by order under which the various items will be released in the coming week to two weeks.
• Gartley took arguments under advisement and will rule later with respect to a plaintiff’s motion regarding when Sidari’s medical providers will be deposed.
But the case erupted in a war of words Monday, with Geisinger releasing a statement early in the morning — perhaps before the hearing even took place — and Casey responding in the afternoon. The full statements can be read online at www.timesleader.com.
Geisinger Health System Associate Chief Legal Officer Edward Zych, in his statement, accused Casey and the Sidari family of withholding information about:
• Treatment Sidari received an a North Carolina hospital before going to Geisinger;
• Her uncle, Dr. Jude Sidari, treating Sidari for more than a month prior to sending her for emergency care at Geisinger Wyoming Valley;
• A privately commissioned autopsy on Sidari;
• Foreign travel to Africa and Haiti and diseases Sidari may have encountered.
“Mr. Casey forces Geisinger to file motions to obtain the production of this critical information, rather than cooperatively engaging in the open exchange of this data,” said Zych. “Where are the autopsy report and important tissue slides? Why is there no pathology report available? And if there is one, where is it? This is a complicated case, and we want to get to the bottom of what happened to this young woman.”
Casey’s response included the following points:
• Geisinger already has Jennifer Sidari’s medical records from North Carolina, and has had them since last summer;
• His office agreed “long ago” to produce any records in Dr. Jude Sidari’s possession and insisted simply that the Health System follow the proper procedure for obtaining them;
• Geisinger “knows that my office will provide autopsy material to the four law firms Geisinger has hired to defend it in this case, and the Court agreed this morning, as did Geisinger’s lawyers, with my suggested approach to sharing information about the autopsy.
“Meanwhile, as the court transcript also shows, Geisinger has refused to produce a single health care provider who was involved in Dr. Sidari’s care for questioning and today sought the protection of the Court to delay that testimony,” Casey wrote.