Family of nonprofit director awarded $1 million

Jury finds doctor negligent in case of man who died of a heart attack.

April 07, 2011|By Veronica Rocha,
  • Thomas Miller, the Glendale Community Foundation's executive director who succumbed to a heart attack Dec. 12, 2006 at age 51, is shown presenting a check to Glendale Historical Society president Arlene Vidor and the society's board in November, 2006.
Thomas Miller, the Glendale Community Foundation's…

GLENDALE — Jurors this week awarded $4.6 million in damages to the family of a prominent local nonprofit director, finding that a Glendale doctor’s misdiagnosis led to his 2006 death.

Jurors on Wednesday awarded the family of Thomas Miller — KPCC radio anchor Susanne Whatley-Miller and the couple’s two daughters — after finding that the doctor was negligent in diagnosing the heart attack that ultimately killed the popular director of the Community Foundation of the Verdugos, formerly known as Glendale Community Foundation.

The family will receive approximately $1 million due to a $250,000 insurance cap on medical malpractice litigation, the family’s attorney, Dan Powell, said.

Jurors found that Dr. Collin Cooper, who works out of the Verdugo Hills Medical Group, was negligent in diagnosing and treating Miller, 51, according to Los Angeles County Superior Court documents, and that his negligence lead to Miller’s death.

“It’s a sad, sad tale,” Powell said.


Miller had called Cooper, who was his physician at the time, to report severe chest pains, Powell said. But instead of immediately ordering a cardiac enzyme test, the family claimed Cooper advised Miller to come into office a few days later. When Miller did so, said Powell, Cooper administered an electrocardiogram exam and ordered a treadmill stress test.

The next day, Miller went to a clinic to take the stress test. An hour after taking the test, Miller returned to work and died, Powell said.

A coroner’s report later showed that a heart attack is what caused Miller’s chest pains and that the electrocardiogram missed it, Powell said.

Powell has tried the case twice. The first trial resulted in a hung jury, he said.


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