N.H. Jury Awards $2.6 Million in Teen Overdose Malpractice Case

June 28, 2005

A New Hampshire jury has awarded $2.6 million to the family of a teen who died after a massive aspirin overdose in 2001.

But it’s not clear how much John and Gaie Mitchell will receive, because shortly before the Merrimack County Superior Court verdict, the two sides reached a private settlement.

Alexander Mitchell of Conway, 16, died after swallowing nearly 300 aspirin pills. Alexander, a student at Proctor Academy in Andover, was depressed over a relationship.

The Mitchells alleged that Christopher Occhino, a visiting doctor filling in at Franklin Hospital, did not order their son transferred to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center soon enough for more specialized treatment. Occhino now practices in New York.

Occhino’s lawyer, Christopher Nyhan, said Occhino had consulted with a Dartmouth-Hitchcock expert soon after Alexander Mitchell arrived in Franklin, but was told to do additional tests before transferring the boy. When Occhino did the tests and made a follow-up call to Dartmouth-Hitchcock, staff there recommended transferring Mitchell, Nyhan said.

“Occhino agreed and the transfer was undertaken,” Nyhan said.

Nyhan said jurors concluded that because the overdose had been so unusually large, the doctor should have known to transfer Mitchell much sooner.

Jurors, relying on testimony from an economist, decided Mitchell had lost nearly $1.8 million in future earnings by dying at 16. They also put his loss of enjoyment of life at $217,500 and his pain and suffering before he died at $21,750. The jurors also awarded Mitchell’s parents over $300,000 each for mental distress, medical expenses and loss of enjoyment with their son.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Topics Medical Professional Liability

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