Settlement reached in lawsuit against hospital

A corporate negligence lawsuit brought against a Maysville hospital by members of the family of a Mason County woman was settled over the weekend.

The settlement came after seven days of testimony in Mason Circuit Court. The defense had not yet called a witness. The case also named as defendants former Meadowview Medical Center chief executive officer David Loving and Lifepoint Hospital Inc., the corporate parent of the Maysville hospital.

The case involved the death in 2005 of Herberta "Bertie" Lang, 71, after carotid artery surgery performed by Dr. John Christian Gunn at Meadow view.

Lang's death closely followed two gallbladder surgeries performed by Gunn in which patients had to be taken to Lexington for allegedly life-threatening injuries.

Gunn is now serving a prison sentence for a 2008 armed robbery in Austin, Texas.

A statement issued by Todd Thompson, an attorney for the hospital, said the hospital admitted no guilt in reaching the settlement: "In fact, we strongly believe and intended to demonstrate during the trial that Meadowview and its medical staff followed all appropriate protocols, policies and procedures in credentialing Dr. Gunn and that the hospital and medical staff responded quickly, appropriately and decisively when made aware of concerns related to his treatment."

Robert F. Houlihan Jr., an attorney representing the Lang family, said in a statement, "The family is very relieved to have this over. For almost four years, the Lang family has fought this case. ... They had to go to the Kentucky Court of Appeals and the Kentucky Supreme Court to obtain some of the evidence presented at trial."

Thompson could not be reached Monday evening. Houlihan, who would not comment on the terms of the settlement, said he would have no further comment.

Gunn's insurance company settled last year with the family. Terms of that settlement also are confidential.

Separate lawsuits were filed over the two failed gallbladder surgeries performed by Gunn. The status of those lawsuits could not be determined Monday evening.

Gunn was granted temporary privileges at Meadowview even though he had taken and failed the General Surgery Board exams in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005. He also failed the exam in 2006.

Gunn is a graduate of Yale School of Medicine and had previously worked as a surgeon at a Texas hospital. A January 2006 independent "quality of care peer review" requested by Meadowview and on file in Mason Circuit Court concluded that in Gunn's handling of the Lang surgery, in which he tied off the artery, "the standard of care was not met, with injury occurring or reasonably probable. In all probability, the injury/ligation caused the permanent stroke and death."

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