A San Antonio-based law firm is working to file a medical negligence claim on behalf of one of the victims of the East Texas nurse accused of injuring patients.
Tom Crosley, lead attorney and partner at the Crosley Law Firm, said it has put Christus Mother Frances Hospital and the Louis and Peaches Owen Heart Hospital in Tyler on notice of this claim.
"The hospital should have the notice on Monday," Crosley said. "We will be able to file the lawsuit 60 days after the hospital receives the notice."
Crosley Law Firm in San Antonio is representing Joseph Kalina, 58. He is one of seven people police identified as victims of nurse William Davis, who was arrested earlier this week on a murder charge related to the death of another patient.
"We want to know what the hospital knew and when they knew it," Crosley said. "Our client was the seventh patient listed on the arrest warrant and this went on for seven months."
The goal of the medical negligence claim is to seek damages against the hospital to get Kalina the ongoing lifelong care he needs, he added.
Christus Mother Frances Hospital released a statement late afternoon Friday. The news release said the hospital does not comment on pending litigation.
"Because this is an ongoing criminal investigation, and because federal privacy regulations prevent us from sharing details about specific patients’ conditions or care, the hospital is limited in what it can discuss," the news release said.
The hospital said officials took swift and appropriate action in January when new information came to light that led them to believe the matter needed to be handled by law enforcement.
The incidents date back to June 22, with the most recent being Kalina's on Jan. 25.
The firm reached out to the Hossley & Embry law firm in Tyler to help with any local issues.
"This is a standard practice in situations like this," Crosley said.
Crosley said Kalina was traveling through East Texas when he started having symptoms of a heart attack.
"He went to a hospital in Mount Pleasant where he was diagnosed and then transferred to the heart hospital in Tyler," Crosley said. "He had heart surgery shortly after getting to Tyler. He was communicating and talking with the doctors, his family and friends after surgery and then in the early morning hours he crashed."
Kalina spent 19 days in the intensive care unit of the hospital until he was moved to a rehabilitation hospital in San Antonio, according to Crosley.
Crosley said the hospital has communicated with the family and shared some information, but not the specific details about the air that was in his brain.
The hospital said officials appreciated the opportunity to speak with impacted family members and explain what they could about the situation.
"The family did not know anything about the air until recently," Crosley said. "They found out that information when the (Tyler) police department shared the information with them."
The hospital said it is shaken by the idea that a nurse acting independently and of his own accord would purposely hurt patients in the hospital.
"Mr. Davis was a credentialed nurse who passed all background checks when he was hired," the news release said. "There was nothing about Davis' employment history that would have indicated he was likely to commit a crime."
The law firm held a news conference Friday in San Antonio.
Kalina's son, Robert, and his wife, Jennette, were alongside Crosley and Andy Rodriguez of the law firm.
Mrs. Kalina held back tears when she spoke about her husband's condition.
"This has been a nightmare for our family," she said. "My husband is paralyzed. He doesn't speak and he needs to be spoon fed. It's horrible. It is a nightmare for all of us, especially him."
According to the arrest affidavit in the case, Davis entered patient rooms then deliberately inserted air into at least seven patients’ arterial lines. The patients suffered stroke-like episodes and two died.
The affidavit indicates Davis was seen on video surveillance footage entering Kalina's room and leaving it a minute later.
"William Davis, RN left the room and within approximately three minutes Joseph Kalina suffered a profound medical/neurological emergency," the affidavit states.
Crosley said Kalina has been receiving care at a rehabilitation hospital in San Antonio since the incident left him in a vegetative state and unable to speak, walk or feed himself.
“This is an unthinkable tragedy," Crosley said. "Hospitals should not employ nurses that harm patients; we will hold the responsible parties accountable for their actions."
Crosley Law Firm is asking anyone who may be a victim or a witness to contact the law firm.
"We would love for someone of insight to come forward," Crosley said. "We would like to do a full and complete investigation."