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Medical Malpractice

Gould Cooksey Fennell Secures $32 Million for Family in Medical Malpractice Case

— April 11, 2024

Cleveland Clinic providers made multiple errors that culminated in a botched intubation that caused irreversible and fatal brain damage.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The family of Saverio Sasso, who tragically died at Weston Cleveland Clinic Hospital in 2018 following an unnecessary and negligently performed intubation, recently won a $31.9 million jury award. Leading the legal team were David Ullian and David Carter, members of Gould Cooksey Fennell’s medical malpractice trial team.

The intubation was witnessed by Mr. Sasso’s fiancée, Andrea Oriolo, who testified that the fatal procedure was initiated by a first-year resident who was not supervised by an attending physician, as required by hospital policy. Ms. Oriolo testified that Mr. Sasso suffocated before her eyes, as the failed intubation starved his brain of oxygen and caused a massive hypoxic brain injury. Despite her clear recollection of the events, Cleveland Clinic denied liability for Mr. Sasso’s death, claiming Ms. Oriolo’s account could not be accurate because it was contradicted by the official Cleveland Clinic record – which was created 15.5 hours after the event.

In 2022, after several years of litigation, Carter and Ullian were asked by co-counsel and Fort Lauderdale attorney Diana Santa Maria to join her efforts to seek justice on behalf of Mr. Oriolo’s family. The Gould Cooksey Fennell attorneys were sought in part based on their past successes uncovering discrepancies in hospitals’ official medical records and forcing hospitals to reveal complete investigative documents that contradict the records. That experience proved crucial in this case, as Carter and Ullian were able to discover a contemporaneous draft note written by the resident that contradicted the official medical record written far later – which was never revealed by Cleveland Clinic. The trial team also discovered a previously withheld email that established that Mr. Sasso’s nurse “froze” during the time of the intubation and left the room.

“Sometimes people die in hospitals, but Mr. Sasso should not have been one of them. Had Mr. Sasso been given more powerful antibiotics, admitted to a higher level of care, or been taken care of in accordance with Cleveland Clinic’s policies, he would be alive today and his then-16 year old daughter would still have her father,” said co-lead attorney Carter. “This family took their loved one to the hospital for treatment of a kidney infection. Instead of going home a few days later with no residual problems, he lost his life. Sadly, he would have been better off if they had given him better antibiotics and sent him home.”

“This heartbreaking case highlights the urgent need for accountability and transparency in health care practices,” added co-lead attorney Ullian “We continue to be inspired by the passion, conviction, and love displayed by the Sasso family. They had to face a devastating loss at the hands of the medical professionals they entrusted with his care, and their steadfast dedication to the pursuit of justice for their loved one has been admirable.”

Emergency room sign; image by Pixabay, via
Emergency room sign; image by Pixabay, via

Mr. Sasso, 51, went to the hospital’s emergency room on September 23, 2018, with a kidney infection that hadn’t improved after he received antibiotics at an urgent care center the previous day. Despite his being at risk for the early stages of sepsis, Cleveland Clinic failed to change Mr. Sasso’s antibiotics and failed to place him in a room with advanced monitoring.

Over the course of that evening and the next morning, Cleveland Clinic providers made multiple errors that culminated in a botched intubation that caused irreversible and fatal brain damage. Mr. Sasso died a week later after scans revealed there was no hope for the resumption of brain activity.

Attorneys Carter and Ullian served as lead trial counselors, heading a trial team that included South Florida attorney Diana Santa Maria and appellate attorney Phillip Parrish.

Finding that the hospital was negligent, the jury awarded $30 million to the victim’s daughter, Saverio Sasso, for present and future pain and suffering, loss of companionship and guidance. The remainder of the verdict was for medical expenses, funeral services, and loss of financial support.


For more than 60 years, Gould Cooksey Fennell, PLLC has been trusted by individuals and businesses to serve their diverse and changing legal needs. The expert attorneys at GCF are devoted to the distinct needs of clients in the areas of estate, tax and probate; real estate and development; and personal injury and wrongful death.


David M. Carter chairs the firm’s Personal Injury and Medical Malpractice Group. Throughout his career, he has served as lead counsel in numerous trials ranging from auto collisions to complex medical malpractice cases and has obtained numerous multi-million-dollar verdicts. Mr. Carter is Board Certified in Civil Trial Law and maintains an AV rating by Martindale Hubbell. He has been included on The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 List, named as one of Florida Trend’s “Legal Elite” and for the last decade has been listed as a “Super Lawyer” by Law & Politics Magazine. Mr. Carter has been included in the U.S. News and World Reports “Best Lawyer” rankings since 2012. That publication has also twice named him Personal Injury Litigation Plaintiff’s Lawyer of the Year for the Orlando area which encompasses 46 cities and 9 counties.


Dane R. Ullian is a litigation partner practicing civil trial law with a focus on catastrophic personal injury, medical malpractice, and wrongful death cases. Mr. Ullian tries multiple cases to verdict each year and has helped deliver numerous multimillion-dollar verdicts for his clients. A former United States Air Force intelligence officer, Mr. Ullian graduated from the University of Florida Levin College of Law ranked number one in his class and is consistently recognized by organizations like Best Lawyers and Super Lawyers.

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