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In Man’s death, jury awards $1.5-million


St. Petersburg Times

Tampa – A Hillsborough Circuit court jury has awarded $1.5-million to a Thonotosassa woman who contended two doctors failed to detect a dangerous infection around her husband’s heart.Brian Wilmoth Jr. died in November 1996 at 22 after developing a bacterial infection around his heart, said one of his widow’s attorneys, Steve Yerrid.

But two Thonotosassa doctors who saw Wilmoth in September of that year attributed his weakened condition to the flu, Yerrid said.

Wilmoth had known since he was a teenager that he had a congenital heart defect, one that left him unable to work and eligible for government disability benefits. While neither the defect nor the infection by itself was necessarily life threatening, their combination posed a much greater risk to his health, Yerrid said.

Wilmoth was married to Joy E. Wilmoth and had a son, Brian Wilmoth III, who is now 3.

Hillsborough Circuit Judge James D. Whittemore presided over the weeklong trial. The jury deliberated three hours and returned its verdict late Friday night.

It awarded damages for future anguish and suffering of $500,000 to both the widow and the son, damages for past anguish of $125,000 to both, $255,000 for the loss of Wilmoth’s services and companionship, and $1,727 in funeral expenses, Yerrid said.

The two doctors who were sued are partners with a practice in Thonotosassa and Seffner. They are Drs. Lakhabhaid Gedia and Studhir I. Patel.

On Saturday, and attorney for Gedia said they expected to ask for a new trial and, if necessary, file an appeal.

“The doctors didn’t do anything negligent,” said attorney Clifford L. Somers of Tampa. “There was no question (Wilmoth) had a viral syndrome in September. Everyone, including their expert, said what my client did was appropriate.”

An attorney for Patel could not be reached for comment Saturday.