Court reinstates wrongful death lawsuit against Valdosta doctor

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VALDOSTA — Georgia's Court of Appeals has reinstated a wrongful death lawsuit against a Valdosta doctor and several health-care firms in the death of a dialysis patient, according to court records.

The lawsuit was filed against Dr. Ven Chiang, together with Valdosta Kidney Clinic, Total Renal Care Inc. doing business as Tifton Dialysis, Dr. Saad Bedeir, Davita Accountable Care Solutions, Davita RX and five "John Does" described as "unknown medical providers" on July 22, 2016, two years after the death of dialysis patient John Seay, according to the appeals court's decision. Bedeir is a doctor in Coffee County.

Seay was taken to a hospital July 20, 2014, after he began bleeding from the area where dialysis equipment would be hooked up, the decision says. He died in the intensive care unit three days later. The plaintiffs' lawsuit filing claims Seay had an aneurism "which was known or should have been known by the defendants" and should have been treated.

Initially, Seay's widow declined to take part in the lawsuit, which was filed in the Lowndes County Superior Court by his son. The defendants asked for a summary judgment, claiming that without the widow the lawsuit could not proceed.

On July 24, 2018, the plaintiffs filed a motion to add or substitute Seay's wife as a plaintiff, which the trial court rejected, saying the move came "long after the statue of limitations had expired" and that the widow "was not entitled to have her case relate back to the time of the (initial) filing," the appeals court decision said.

The trial court found that the wrongful death claim was "not filed by the appropriate party" and entered judgment on that claim for "the Doctor and nurses" but not for "technical providers" Total Renal Care, Davita Accountable Care Solutions and Davita Rx, the appeals decision shows.

Seay's estate appealed on three grounds: first, that the trial court made a mistake in not letting his widow join the lawsuit as a plaintiff; second, that the trial court erred in granting a summary judgment to some of the defendants; and third, the "technical providers" claimed that the lower court made a mistake in denying them a summary judgment based on on the wrongful death claim. The appeals court upheld the first two claims and dismissed the third claim as a moot point.

Terry Richards is senior reporter at The Valdosta Daily Times.

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