John Ritter’s Family Takes $67 Million Wrongful Death Lawsuit to Court

Jury selection in the wrongful death of actor John Ritter began in Los Angeles County Superior Court today. Ritter died at age 54 in September 2003 after he was treated in a Burbank emergency room for a heart attack when he actually had an aortic dissection. His family claims that the TV star would have lived longer if only he had undergone the correct procedure; they say that the treatment he received for a heart attack was the “exact opposite” kind of care that he needed.

Plaintiffs in the wrongful death lawsuit are Ritter’s wife, actress Amy Yasbeck, and his four children. They are suing two doctors for $67 million—the high sum is based in part on what Ritter, a successful television star, would have earned had he survived.

At the time of his death, Ritter was the star of the hit television show “8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter.” He also worked in movies and other television projects.

The two doctors named as defendants in the wrongful death lawsuit are cardiologist Joseph Lee and radiologist Matthew Lotysch. They are being sued for negligence and their alleged failure to properly diagnose and care for Ritter.

Lotysch is the doctor who performed a body scan on the actor in 2001. Lotysch detected nothing wrong with Ritter’s aorta, but referred him to a cardiologist because he noticed calcifications in the actor’s coronary arteries. Ritter did not see a cardiologist after his visit with Lotysch.

In 2003, Ritter was rushed from the set of his TV show to the emergency room of Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank. He complained that he was experiencing chest pain, nausea, and vomiting.

A chest x-ray that was ordered was never conducted for some unknown reason. Lee is the doctor who treated him for the heart attack. The aortic dissection was not identified until right before the actor died.

An aortic dissection is a tear in the aorta that can imitate a heart attack.

Yasbeck and Ritter’s kids have already received about $14 million in settlements from nine medical entities, including Providence St. Joseph Medical Center, which settled with Ritter’s family for $9.4 million.

If you were seriously injured or someone you love died because a doctor made a medical error, failed to diagnose your illness, or provided you with the wrong type of medical care, you should speak with our Maryland or Washington D.C. medical malpractice law firm immediately.

John Ritter’s diagnosis at center of $67M lawsuit,, February 5, 2008
Ritter’s family says he didn’t have to die, Los Angeles Times, January 24, 2008

Related Web Resources:

Settlement Reached in John Ritter Wrongful Death Lawsuit,, March 16, 2006
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