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Wrongful death case goes to jury

LISBON — A Common Pleas Court jury heard final arguments Thursday following nearly two weeks of testimony in a case involving the death of a 6-year-old boy in 2017.

While the kindergartener suffered from flu symptoms, his mother had taken him first to his regular pediatrician and then with her advice, took him to the Salem Regional Medical Center where he was seen at the emergency room on Jan. 27, 2017. After being evaluated and treated for symptoms including dehydration, he was sent home. He died the next day.

Courtney Sutton, the attorney for the plaintiffs, the child’s parents Tiffany Ferreira, Salem, and Christopher W. Avila Sr., Lakeland, Fla. asked jurors to find the emergency room physician, Dr. Mary Ellen Barringer liable in the wrongful death of the boy. Sutton further asked jurors to award the family $2 million, while noting no monetary amount will bring the child back but will help them as they deal with their past and current anguish from losing him, as well as all the missed time and memories they would have made with him in the future.

Both Sutton and Barringer’s defense attorney, Erin Siebenhar Hess, went back through the testimony of a long list of doctors and experts, who had taken the stand since the trial began in the courtroom of Judge Megan Bickerton on June 15.

Sutton claimed the evidence presented proves IV fluids were working that night, but were not administered long enough. She said the boy should have been kept at the emergency room longer or admitted to the hospital instead of sent home after three hours of care. She talked about “red flag” symptoms he still had even after receiving some care at the emergency room and claims Barringer violated the standards of care by sending him home, where he would eventually get sicker and more unstable.

Hess argued all the “best and brightest” national experts she had brought into the courtroom agreed neither Barringer nor anyone could have predicted the child would take a downward turn that led to his death. However, she said the experts agreed if the boy had received his flu shot he would have had weaker symptoms or would not have caught the flu at all.

“She did not do anything wrong,” Hess said of Barringer, “and there wasn’t anything she could have done to prevent the tragic death.”

After hearing about two hours of closing arguments, Jurors returned from a lunch break and are now being asked to sift through all the testimony and medical records to try to determine if Barringer was negligent that night and whether that negligence led to the death of the boy.

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