The parents of former “Jeopardy” champion Brayden Smith have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against a hospital in Las Vegas. Smith passed away in February of ’21 after undergoing stomach surgery. The lawsuit filed by Smith’s parents accuses the medical staff of negligent medical malpractice. Negligence is a term used by those in the legal industry to refer to the failure to provide those in one’s vicinity with the proper level of care.
Indeed, hospital medical personnel performing surgical operations have a duty of care for the patient undergoing the procedure. However, it is unclear as to whether Smith’s death is the result of medical malpractice or his unique physiological response to the surgical procedure.
The Details of the Lawsuit
Smith, 24, won Jeopardy five straight times prior to undergoing surgery for an issue in his abdomen and colon. Smith’s parents have named three defendants in the ensuing wrongful death lawsuit. The defendants are specific medical staff members who performed the operation at Dignity Health – St. Rose Dominican Hospital-Siena Campus in Henderson. Henderson is a beautiful sprawling suburban area that borders the city of Las Vegas. Fox 5 dished the details of the lawsuit earlier this week.
The attorney for Smith’s parents, Robert Murdock, issued the following statement: “This case is not just about death — Brayden suffered before he died because the hospital, its nurses, and the home health nurse failed to teach and take care of this young man with a new ostomy.”
Smith, a ’20 graduate of UNLV, intended on enrolling in law school and working for the government as an attorney. However, he unexpectedly died after undergoing a colectomy, a surgery that removes a portion of the colon. Smith decided to undergo the surgery after suffering from the inflammatory bowel disease known as ulcerative colitis. The question is whether the medical staff at the Las Vegas-area hospital where Smith passed away was negligent when performing the procedure.
The language used in the lawsuit states, “His death was preordained by the misconduct of doctors and nurses. None of this had to be.”
Murdock has even gone as far as hiring a doctor for expert testimony and analysis. The doctor added his own unique insight to the documents filed in court, stating, “By the time Brayden was in the hospital in December of 2020 and January of 2021, Brayden was malnourished, was extremely weak, and was a very ill young man … He was having over 10 bloody bowel movements per day, was in pain and was tachycardic.”
The Hospital’s Response
Dignity Health has responded to the lawsuit through a spokesperson that told a local Las Vegas CBS affiliate that the lawsuit is under review. The spokesperson also went on to state hospital administrators cannot comment on pending legal action.
Smith Will Be Forever Tied to Alex Trebek
Smith’s death stings even more, sinces his run on Jeopardy came toward the end of Alex Trebek’s time on the program. Smith reeled off five consecutive wins in Trebek’s final episodes. Trebek lost his lengthy battle with cancer in 2021. All in all, Smith took home $115,000 from Jeopardy episodes taped in the fall of 2020.
Smith’s obituary describes him as an advocate for justice and a lover of knowledge. Jeopardy producers issued a statement about the young man’s death: “He was kind, funny and absolutely brilliant. Our deepest condolences go out to Brayden’s family. He will be missed.”
In a tweet dated February 12, 2021, Deborah Smith, wrote, “We are heartbroken to share that our dear Brayden Smith recently passed away unexpectedly. We are so grateful that Brayden was able to live out his dream on @jeopardy. pic.twitter.com/e5x18xGcxV”
Will the Lawsuit Result in a Payout?
Deborah and Scott Smith, the parents of Brayden, insist the hospital staff tasked with treating their son failed to provide him with the necessary anticoagulants after his colon surgery. The lawsuit also alleges that hospital staffers failed to provide sufficient medical standards of care for their son during and after his surgery. The Jeopardy champion was medically cleared to leave the hospital and discharged without any apparent health concerns. However, it took less than two weeks for Smith to suffer complications stemming from the surgery. Smith was subsequently re-hospitalized following a collapse.
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The Jeopardy superstar’s official cause of death was blood clots within the lungs. Time will tell if the 14-page civil complaint that includes sworn and signed affidavits from several doctors and nurses results in a lucrative payout. Though the financial information detailed in the complaint has not been fully revealed to the public, it is known that the case seeks punitive damages and unspecified compensatory damages nearing or greater than $20,000.