An important precedent Russian woman wins million-ruble lawsuit against hospital following her husband’s death from COVID-19

Vladimir Gerdo / TASS

Lydia Medvedeva, who lives in Russia’s Astrakhan region, successfully sued a district hospital for one million rubles ($14,300) over the death of her husband from COVID-19. On October 18, the Astrakhan Regional Court ruled that by belatedly testing Medvedeva’s husband for the coronavirus, the hospital failed to provide him with adequate medical care. Medvedeva’s husband died in June 2020, less than 10 days after he first visited the hospital complaining of a cough and chest pain. According to Lydia Medvedeva’s lawyer, this isn’t the first time a Russian court has ordered a hospital to pay compensation due to the death of a coronavirus patient. However, compensation amounts are typically much smaller.

On October 18, the Astrakhan Regional Court ordered the Akhtubinsk District Hospital to pay local resident Lydia Medvedeva one million rubles ($14,300) in compensation for moral damages. Medvedeva had filed a lawsuit against the hospital over the death of her 60-year-old husband. 

Medvedeva’s lawyer Sergey Bronitsky told Novaya Gazeta that his client’s late husband, Sergey Medvedev, visited the district hospital on June 13, 2020, complaining of a cough and chest pain. According to the court ruling, a family doctor told Medvedev to drink lots of fluids and take paracetamol and Arbidol (an antiviral flu medication), and recommended he recover at home.

Medvedev returned to the hospital two days after his first visit. The doctors prescribed him additional medications and tested him for COVID-19. Following a CT scan, he was diagnosed with bilateral pneumonia. By June 18, Medvedev’s health was deteriorating and he was prescribed several more medications, including a mixture of medicinal herbs. On June 19, he was finally admitted to the hospital’s infectious disease ward after being diagnosed with an acute respiratory infection. Medvedev died on June 22. He was diagnosed with the coronavirus posthumously.

Following her husband’s death, Lydia Medvedeva appealed to Russia’s Investigative Committee, which launched a criminal case. A forensic medical examination conducted during the investigation determined that the hospital committed violations in the provision of medical care — namely, that the staff belatedly tested Sergey Medvedev for COVID-19. Nevertheless, the Investigative Committee decided to close the case “due to the absence of a crime” the court ruling states.

However, the judges of the Astrakhan Regional Court determined that while the hospital staff’s actions didn’t cause Sergey Medvedev’s health to deteriorate, the violations in the provision of medical care “negatively affected his condition.” In their ruling, the judges wrote that these violations were an “implicit cause” of Medvedev’s death. “The failure to provide medical care is a grave development, which undoubtedly causes moral and physical suffering to the victim,” the judges noted.

Lydia Medvedeva originally sued the hospital for three million rubles (nearly $43,000) in damages, but the court reduced the compensation amount.

Medvedeva’s lawyer Sergey Bronitsky told RIA Novosti that this isn’t the first instance where a Russian court ordered a hospital to pay damages due to the death of a coronavirus patient. However, this is the first case involving a significant amount of compensation.

According to Bronitsky, in similar cases, the defendants were made to pay sums as little as 50,000 rubles ($716). “This is an important precedent,” the lawyer underscored to Novaya Gazeta.

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We won’t give up Because you’re with us

I’m with you, Meduza

Story by Alexander Baklanov

Translation by Eilish Hart

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