SCRANTON – Due to the death of a plaintiff, one representing the estate of a Carbondale woman who passed away from cardiac arrest three years ago while in the care of Geisinger Medical Center, another individual has been substituted to stand in for the litigation.

James A. Zaltauskas, Administrator of the Estate of Sandra J. Skotleski and the Estate itself of Carbondale first filed suit in the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas on April 20, 2021 versus Community Medical Center (doing business as “Geisinger Community Medical Center”), Wilson Young, M.D. and John Zaic Jr., CRNP, all of Scranton.

“Skotleski was admitted to Community Medical Center (doing business as ‘Geisinger Community Medical Center’) on or about March 26, 2019 with exertional shortness of breath for a few weeks associated with retrosternal chest pain and lower abdominal pain. On March 27, 2019, Skotleski was found to be in rapid atrial fibrillation, with a ventricular rate of 181. Skotleski was treated with intravenous Cardizem, which reduced the ventricular rate,” the suit said.

“Skotleski underwent an echocardiogram that revealed severe left ventricular systolic and diastolic dysfunction with an ejection fraction of about 25 percent. Skotleski remained in atrial fibrillation until April 3, 2019, when she had a TEE cardioversion, which successfully converted her to normal sinus rhythm.”

Skotleski was discharged on or about April 5, 2019 and prescribed Apizaban, Atorvastatin, Digozin, Colace, Famotidine, Lisinopril, Metoprolol, Oxycodone, Cilalopram and Miralaz, and advised her to follow up with her cardiologist, the suit stated.

“Skotleski followed up with her cardiologist Dr. Michael Kayal on April 11, 2019 and an ECG revealed atrial flutter with variable AV block, which was a change from the previous ECG performed on April 3, 2019, which showed normal sinus rhythm. Skotleski was referred for electrophysiology consultations ‘regarding anti-arrhythmic drug therapy versus ablation and was directed to stay on the medication previously prescribed,” the suit added.

“On or about May 3, 2019, Skotleski was seen in the electrophysiology department by defendants Zaic and Dr. Young and due to her rhythm was sinus bradycardia. Skotleski was ordered by defendant Zaic and Dr. Young to discontinue the digoxin and metoprolol and start 80 mg of Sotalol every 12 hours, with a plan to ‘schedule patient for outpatient EKG to evaluate QTc after initiating Sotalol.’ On or about May 6, 2019, Skotleski was found deceased and her death was caused by cardiac arrest.”

According to the lawsuit, Skotleski should have been admitted for observation and monitoring, given the medication routine she had been prescribed – rather than treated as an outpatient.

“Defendants recklessly, willfully, outrageously, and consciously disregarded medication administration warnings demonstrating reckless indifference to the rights of plaintiff’s decedent, resulting in her death,” the suit said.

“As a direct and proximate result of the defendants’ failures to properly treat plaintiff, individually, jointly and/or severally, plaintiff suffered severe personal injury resulting in death, emotional injury, wage loss and loss of future earning capacity, as well as, all damages recoverable under the wrongful death and survival statutes.”

Geisinger Community Medical Center filed an answer to the suit on Oct. 29, 2021, denying its assertions in their entirety and providing new matter in its own defense.

“The averments as set forth in plaintiffs’ complaint fail to state a claim or cause of action against the answering defendants upon which relief may be granted. Any claim or cause of action as set forth in plaintiffs’ complaint may be barred by operation of the statute of limitations, by operation of the contributory/comparative negligence of the plaintiff decedent and by operation of the assumption of a known risk by plaintiff decedent, as may be developed during discovery,” the defendant’s new matter said, in part.

“Plaintiffs’ claims are barred and/or limited by the Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error Act of 2002. Plaintiffs’ action is barred or limited by the MCARE Act, as amended and each and every sub-section thereof is incorporated herein by reference. Answering defendants raise all rights, immunities and damage limitations presented in the Affordable Care Act. Plaintiffs’ claims may be barred, in whole or in part, by the applicable statute of limitations.”


In a March 14 filing, it was noted that Zaltauskas had passed away on an unmentioned date. 11 days later, on March 25, plaintiff counsel filed a petition to substitute a party pursuant to Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 2352(a).

“Lackawanna County Register of Wills appointed John J. McGovern Jr., Esq. as the Administrator to the Estate of plaintiff Sandra Skotleski. Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 2352(a) allows a ‘successor’ to voluntarily become a party to a pending action and defines a ‘successor’ as ‘anyone who by operation of law, election or appointment has succeeded to the interest or office of a party to an action. At present, the successor John J. McGovern Jr., Esq. as Administrator of the Estate of Sandra Skotleski, has voluntarily become a party to the pending action, pursuant to Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 2352(a),” the petition stated.

Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas Judge Julia K. Munley approved the petition the very same day, March 25.

For multiple counts of negligence, corporate negligence, survival and wrongful death, the plaintiffs are seeking compensatory and punitive damages in excess of $50,000 from each defendant, plus interest and such other relief as the Honorable Court deems just and proper.

The plaintiffs are represented by Bradley D. Moyer of Pisanchyn Law Firm, in Scranton.

The defendants are represented by Dominick J. Georgetti of Wylam & Georgetti and Noah E. Katz of Geisinger Legal Services, all also in Scranton.

Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas case 2021-CV-01774

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