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UT Medical Center faces two lawsuits in kidney case

By Samantha Rhodes
On August 14, 2013

The University of Toledo Medical Center faces two lawsuits after an August 2012 incident in which a kidney intended for a transplant between two siblings was mistakenly discarded by a nurse.

Both lawsuits center around Paul Fudacz Jr.’s surgery last year at UTMC, which he underwent to donate a kidney to sister Sarah Fudacz. Part-time nurse Judith Moore mistakenly discarded the contents of a slush machine containing the kidney during the procedure.

The first claim was filed by the Fudacz family, and the second was filed by former UTMC nurse Melanie Lemay who was working alongside Moore at the time of the incident.

The family, which includes the donor, his sister, their parents and their four siblings, were unable to reach a financial settlement with UTMC and instead sued the medical school July 29, filing a lawsuit in the Court of Claims in Columbus.

Lemay, who was present during the accident and fired for violating UTMC policy, sued UTMC on Aug. 2 for wrongful discharge, defamation, slander and libel. Her husband, Patrick, is also listed as a plaintiff in the lawsuit, seeking damages exceeding $25,000.

University spokesman Tobin Klinger declined to discuss the matter, as “it would be inappropriate to comment on upcoming litigation.”

The Fudacz suit stated the plaintiffs “individually demand judgment against UTMC in excess of $25,000, plus interest, the costs of the suit, and any other relief the court deems appropriate.”

According to the lawsuit, Paul Fudacz Jr. seeks damages he has suffered and will continue to suffer as a result of undergoing a botched kidney removal surgery.

Although Sarah Fudacz received a kidney from a transplant in Colorado on Nov. 13, 2012, the lawsuit stated her brother’s kidney was a “perfect match.”

“When compared to Paul Jr.’s kidney, Sarah’s new kidney is a poorer match and of poorer quality” the lawsuit stated. “Because of that, she has a higher risk of rejection ... and in all likelihood, she will need another replacement transplant sooner than she otherwise would have.”

James Arnold, one of the family’s attorneys, told The Blade that UTMC helped with Ms. Fudacz’s “expenses in going back and forth to Colorado and in the way of housing, but those expenses are things they would have been held accountable for anyway.”

Full-time nurse Lemay was the RN circulator in the operating room at the time of the incident and was fired Sept. 12, 2012. Moore resigned two days earlier.

Lemay’s suit states she suffered “defamation, slander, and libel ... [and] damage to her reputation and been exposed to public shame and disgrace affecting her daily life.”

The lawsuit stated that because UTMC adapted new policies six days after the incident on Aug. 10, 2012, Lemay was wrongfully fired on Sept. 12, 2012, for violating policies that didn’t exist while she was employed.

Lemay’s complaint states that her firing was due to UTMC’s “need to deflect its responsibility for the inadequate policies that were in place on Aug. 10, 2012, and to uphold the public image of its kidney transplant program.”

Attorney Vesper Williams II told The Blade that Lemay was only six months from being able to retire and lost her insurance 30 days after losing her job. She suffered depression and other difficulties “associated with being wrongfully discharged” and due to her lack of insurance, she had to pay for her own treatments.

You can read both the Fudacz lawsuit and the Lemay lawsuit at these links, provided by The Blade.

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