Man sues over wife's brain injury

Amy Plueger loved camping, boating, and, for reasons her husband still can't understand, collecting river rocks.

But after she nearly died in April 2003, Mrs. Plueger has been confined to a nursing home, paralyzed and unable to eat or communicate.

A Richmond County Superior Court jury will continue to hear evidence this week to try to determine whether an Augusta physician was negligent in caring for Mrs. Plueger.

Acute Care Consultants and Dr. Connie A. Trello, the defendants in the legal malpractice case, contend Dr. Trello saved Mrs. Plueger's life and that nothing she did or didn't do caused the debilitating brain injury.

During the fourth day of trial Friday, Steven Plueger told the jury about the woman he married in 2002.

She became the mother to his two youngest boys, he said. Their lives centered on the children and their free time was spent camping, boating and bike riding.

"She was an outdoors person," Mr. Plueger said.

In late March 2003, Mrs. Plueger, then 44, was admitted to Doctors Hospital for observation and steroid and breathing treatments.

Pneumonia was the likely cause, the treating physician thought, according to court documents.

Her condition worsened, and on April 2, 2003, Mrs. Plueger was transferred to the intensive care unit, where Dr. Trello saw and treated her for the first time.

The doctor's recommended treatment including putting the Evans woman on a ventilator, both sides agree.

What happened throughout the day are issues the jury will determine. The plaintiff alleges the doctor missed signs that Mrs. Plueger developed tension pneumothorax, a compression of the lung.

At 7:30 p.m. that day, Mrs. Plueger went into cardiac or respiratory arrest. The medical team headed by Dr. Trello was able to resuscitate her, but she suffered permanent brain injury.

Mr. Plueger, who filed suit on behalf of his wife, is seeking to recover the cost of her medical and nursing care to date and for the rest of her life, in addition to other compensatory damages.