Fire-starting doc to pay $450G to family

Boston Herald, Thursday, February 10, 2005
by J.M. Lawrence

A Quincy surgeon agreed yesterday to pay $450,000 to the family of a retired Milton teacher whose throat was accidentally set on fire in the operating room when the doctor used an electrical surgical tool despite an oxygen leak.

Attorneys for Dr. Peter N. Friedensohn settled the case with the Shute family after nine days of a civil trial before a Norfolk Superior Court jury.

"The family is pleased this long ordeal is now over," attorney William J. Thompson of Lubin & Meyer said. "They were willing to take it all the way because they believed mistakes were made and nobody was willing to take responsibility."

Paul J. Shute, 81, died 19 days after the flash fire in the Milton Hospital operating room during a procedure to put a tube in his windpipe to help him breathe. He had burns to his mouth and trachea.

Expert witnesses for the doctor testified that Shute’s burns were superficial and said he died from heart failure, not the fire. The settlement acknowledges Shute’s pain and suffering but does not blame the doctor for his death.

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