Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Appellate court overturns judgement in teen baseball player's death

TAMPA — A six-figure judgement against a local doctor has been overturned after a Florida appeals court ruled that two grieving parents did not prove that a Tampa doctor's actions caused their son's death.

In 2011, a jury awarded the parents of an Alonso High School baseball player about $800,000. Their son, 17-year-old Matthew Miulli, collapsed during a preseason workout in 2005, and jurors put some of the blame on the teenager's physician, Dr. Erwin Shartz, and HealthPoint Medical Group.

But if last week's decision by the 2nd District Court of Appeal becomes final, those parties will no longer have to pay.

Before that happens, the Miullis' attorney has a chance to ask for a re-hearing. On Friday, attorney Stuart Markman said he plans to do so. He declined to discuss the case further since it is still open.

In January 2005, Miulli collapsed while walking on a track. He was declared dead at a hospital from congenital aortic valve disease.

Shartz had cleared the young man to play baseball in August 2004 — even though he had an existing heart condition. The doctor later testified that Kathy Miulli told him that her son had recently seen a cardiologist.

The day after the appointment, Shartz called the cardiologist, who said the teen had not been examined in two years. Shartz immediately revoked Matthew Miulli's authorization to play baseball but did not get through to the Miullis, despite leaving seven voice messages and sending two letters.

During the 2011 trial, a doctor testifying for the family said that because Shartz did not get in touch with the family, he failed to provide adequate care. He should have "closed the loop," the physician testified.

However, in its June 28 opinion, the appellate court said the testifying physician, Dr. Randy Wertheimer, was not a cardiologist and also did not have evidence that Shartz's failure to reach the family caused the boy's death.

"No one testified that Matthew would not have participated in baseball conditioning had Dr. Shartz 'closed the loop,' " the opinion states.

The Miullis did not testify that they would have taken their son to a cardiologist or forbidden him from going to conditioning, the opinion states.

"Matthew possibly could have lived had Dr. Shartz refused to sign the sports medical release or had he confirmed that the Miullis understood he had revoked his authorization," it states. "But possibly is not the standard."

Matthew Miulli loved baseball. His bedroom was a shrine to the Chicago Cubs. His parents buried him in his hometown of Chicago so that he would be closer to Wrigley Field.

His death raised questions about requirements for school sports and spurred the state to mandate that schools have defibrillators at sporting events.

Attorney Roland Lamb, who represents Shartz and HealthPoint, said he was pleased with the appellate court's decision. His clients had not paid the Miullis and do not plan to now.

"I think it's the appropriate disposition of the case," Lamb said. "I anticipated it, and I'm pleased with the result."

He added that he and his clients sympathize with the Miullis.

"Obviously, it's a terrible situation for them. I'm sure this will make them relive some of it, and I'm very sorry about that."

Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3433.

Appellate court overturns judgement in teen baseball player's death 07/05/13 [Last modified: Monday, July 8, 2013 9:42am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Suspect in Maryland office park shooting is apprehended

    Nation

    EDGEWOOD, Md. — A man with a lengthy criminal past who was fired from a job earlier this year for punching a colleague showed up for work at a countertop company on Wednesday and shot five of his co-workers has been arrested, authorities said. Three of them were killed and two critically wounded.

    Workers from the Advanced Granite Solutions in Maryland console each other Wednesday after a shooting there killed three people. Officers said the attacker fled and also shot a man in Delaware.    as police and Emergency Medical Services respond to a shooting at a business park in the Edgewood area of Harford County, Md., Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017.  A gunman opened fire at the office park killing several co-workers and wounded others, authorities said.  (Matt Button/The Baltimore Sun via AP) MDBAE105
  2. Lightning's J.T. Brown to stop anthem protest, focus on community involvement

    Lightning Strikes

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Lightning wing J.T. Brown will no longer raise his first as a protest during the national anthem before games.

    J.T. Brown says he will work more with the Tampa police and groups that serve at-risk young people.
  3. The two Ricks tangle at what may be final debate

    Elections

    ST. PETERSBURG — In what was likely the last mayoral forum before the Nov. 7 election, Mayor Rick Kriseman and former Mayor Rick Baker started out small, discussing neighborhood issues like recycling and neighborhood funding. They ended tangling over familiar subjects: the future of the Tampa Bay Rays, sewage …

    Ex-Mayor Rick Baker, left, and Mayor Rick Kriseman, right, debated familiar topics. The Times’ Adam Smith moderated.
  4. Tampa Chamber of Commerce announces small business winners

    Business

    TAMPA — The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce selected the winners of the 2017 Small Business of the Year Awards at a ceremony Wednesday night at the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. More than 600 attendees celebrated the accomplishments of Tampa Bay's small business community.

    Vincent Cassidy, president and CEO of Majesty Title Services, was named Outstanding Small Business Leader of the Year by the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce.

  5. UF president Kent Fuchs: 'Charlottesville changed everything' (w/video)

    K12

    GAINESVILLE — Wednesday evening, hazy rumors of an impending Neo-Nazi march reached some wary protesters. A few quickly rallied to denounce the marchers in downtown Gainesville, only to find plazas empty but for police.

    University of Florida President W. Kent Fuchs talks with reporters Wednesday about white nationalist Richard Spencer's planned speech on Thursday. He said of Spencer: "In a small way, he is causing us to redouble our focus on supporting actions that are the opposite of what he wants." [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]