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Long Beach Press Telegram
Widow sues Kaiser in delivery room tragedy
Friday, July 08, 2005 - SAN BERNARDINO — A widowed mother of two sued the Kaiser hospital system alleging her husband fainted while helping her give birth and fatally struck his head when he fell.
The lawsuit claims Steven Passalaqua, 33, died last year after he was asked to help hold his wife, Jeanette, while a needle was inserted in her back for an epidural anesthetic injection during labor.
"This avoidable tragedy was a direct result of Kaiser's ordinary negligence in failing to exercise reasonable care to prevent foreseeable injuries to Steven," according to the suit, which was filed last week in San Bernardino County Superior Court.
Mrs. Passalaqua, 32, of Riverside County, is the mother of a daughter, Amanda, and a son, Justin.
The suit alleges wrongful death and negligent infliction of emotional distress. It seeks burial expenses and unspecified damages from Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and Southern California Permanente Medical Group Inc.
"This was a tragic accident. The family has suffered a great loss… Everybody's heart has to go out," Kaiser spokesman Jim Anderson said Friday.
He declined to comment on specifics of the suit.
"Some of the allegations in the lawsuit are just that, allegations. The legal process is under way and we should respect that," he said.
According to the lawsuit, Mrs. Passalaqua was delivering her son on June 30, 2004, at a Kaiser hospital the suit did not name.
"Jeanette was shaking, and Kaiser's employee requested that Steven put his arms around her and hold her during the administration of the epidural," the suit said.
The first attempt to inject her failed. During the second, Passalaqua saw the needle enter his wife's spine, said "here we go again," released his wife, lost consciousness and fell backwards, hitting his head on an aluminum cap molding at the base of a wall, according to the suit.Passalaqua suffered a fractured skull and bleeding on the brain that worsened and he died two days later, the suit said.