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Carlson, Avera receive innocent verdict

By Staff | Jul 29, 2008

After 70 minutes of deliberation, an Emmet County jury last Friday returned an innocent verdict in a medical negligence lawsuit in Emmet County District Court in Estherville.

Plaintiffs Nancy, Angela and Carrie Fry had filed the lawsuit against Dr. Steven Carson and Avera McKennan, doing business as Avera Lakes Family Practice in Spirit Lake.

The plaintiffs alleged that Stephen Fry had consulted with Dr. Carlson March 2, 2004, regarding health problems. Carlson prescribed two medications. The plaintiffs alleged that during Carlson’s treatment of

Fry for symptoms he diagnosed as depression that Carlson never asked whether Fry was suicidal. On or about March 12, 2004, Fry died as a result of a self-inflicted gun shot wound.

The plaintiffs filed two counts against the defendants, for medical negligence and vicarious liability for medical negligence.

“We were confident that the evidence showed that Dr. Carlson had not breached any duties,” said Joe Fitzgibbons, Carlson’s attorney, after the verdict.

Fitzgibbons noted one expert witness, Dr. Jon Ahrendsen of Clarinda, who testified for the plaintiffs and two who testified on Dr. Carlson’s behalf, Dr. Scott Helmers of Sibley and Jerome Kroll, a psychiatrist with the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

“We really felt the evidence strongly supported Dr. Carlson,” Fitzgibbons said.

“I really think they (the jury) balanced the facts,” Fitzgibbons said. “Dr. Carlson did a very nice job on the witness stand.”

While Fitzgibbons empathized with the Fry family, he said the jury was correct in returning an innocent verdict.