German “OT” Ortiz lived in Las Vegas for a decade without knowing that a 57-inch metal wire ran through his body.
When a doctor told him in 2015 that he needed surgery to clear blood clots, an X-ray exposed the wire stretching down his aorta, from his chest to his thigh, his attorney, James Jimmerson, told a jury Tuesday during opening statements of what is expected to be a weeklong trial.
Ortiz’s lawyers are asking a jury to award him upward of $800,000 from the cardiologist who performed a 2005 angioplasty, Mark Taylor, and his company, Heart Center of Nevada.
Ortiz is now 70. He spent 22 years in the Air Force, receiving a Bronze Star, and has lived in Las Vegas for about 30 years, his lawyer said.
He serves as a youth pastor at Cornerstone Christian Academy and Preschool. A year ago, doctors removed two-thirds of the wire for a heart procedure, Jimmerson said, though more than 20 inches still stretch down his thigh.
Ortiz was taken to the University Medical Center emergency room after experiencing shortness of breath almost 14 years ago to the day that jurors heard opening statements.
Doctors told him he had congestive heart failure and needed an angiogram, according to a lawsuit that Ortiz and his wife, Angela, filed in 2016.
The suit alleges medical malpractice; professional negligence; negligent infliction of emotional distress; negligent hiring, training and supervision; and loss of consortium.
In an angiogram procedure, a catheter is inserted through the bloodstream to distribute a dye that allows doctors to photograph blood vessels, Jimmerson explained to jurors, holding a sample of a wire used to keep the catheter stiff. In Ortiz’s case, when the catheter was removed, a guide wire remained in his body, the suit alleges.
Taylor’s lawyer, Patricia Daehnke, told jurors that another doctor must have left the wire inside Ortiz, adding that Taylor was never informed that the guide wire had been lost.
“Dr. Taylor met the standard of care and in no way was negligent or uncareful in his cardiology,” she said, pointing to notes from the procedure Taylor performed. “We’re not here to pin responsibility on Dr. Taylor. We’re here to present the evidence to you.”
Jimmerson asked jurors to hold Taylor and his company responsible for causing “pain, anxiety and the probability of future surgery for blood clots.”
He said the case centers on the issues of respect and trust.
“A doctor must pay careful attention during a procedure,” Jimmerson said. “If a doctor does not pay careful attention during a procedure, the doctor is responsible for the injuries caused.”