AZ Atty, Jeffrey A. Cogan Owes Dr Arnaldo Trabucco $8M In Malicious Prosecution Case

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medical malpractice suit wrongfully alleged that he intentionally caused a patient’s death and amounted to malicious prosecution

AZ Atty, Jeffrey A. Cogan Owes Dr Arnaldo Trabucco $8M In Malicious Prosecution Case

Law360 (July 30, 2018, 10:17 PM EDT) -- An Arizona jury has awarded what a plaintiff's attorney called a record $8 million to a physician who claimed that a medical malpractice suit wrongfully alleged that he intentionally caused a patient’s death and amounted to malicious prosecution, putting the Las Vegas-based attorney who filed the suit on the hook for compensatory and punitive damages.

Following a three-day damages trial and just one hour of deliberation, a Mohave County jury determined on July 25 that attorney Jeffrey A. Cogan and his eponymous firm owes doctor Arnaldo Trabucco approximately $6.2 million in compensatory damages and about $1.8 million in punitive damages in a malicious prosecution and abuse of process suit accusing Cogan of filing a series of legal actions alleging Trabucco intentionally caused a patient’s death.

The jury also determined that Cogan’s client in the medical malpractice cases, Helen Scharf, did not owe any damages, according to the verdict form. Mohave County Judge Lee Jantzen ruled in January that Cogan and Scharf were liable for malicious prosecution and abuse of process, according to court papers.

An attorney for Trabucco, Jack Wilenchik of Wilenchik & Bartness PC, told Law360 on Monday that the verdict is a record award for Mohave County.

“Mohave County is a very conservative county; most years the average plaintiff verdict is zero,” said Wilenchik, who said the previous record was a medical malpractice award just north of $1 million.

“The seat of Mohave County is Kingman, we had a good jury up there and if there’s one thing a jury can agree on [it] is they don't like lawyers,” the attorney added, laughing.

According to the operative complaint, Cogan first filed suit on behalf of Scharf in Arizona state court in 2013 accusing Trabucco, a urologist, of botching a kidney removal surgery for Scharf’s husband, Gerald Scharf, which purportedly caused his death. Scharf later amended the complaint to allege that Trabucco “intentionally and maliciously caused the death of Mr. Scharf,” which Wilenchik said essentially alleges that Trabucco committed homicide.

“It was a very unusual case,” said Wilenchik.

Cogan also filed an adversary suit in bankruptcy court seeking to prevent Trabucco from discharging any liability in the medical malpractice case. The parties later agreed to dismiss the bankruptcy court matter with any future lawsuits requiring approval by the bankruptcy judge. Despite this requirement, Cogan, on behalf of Scharf, lodged a suit in Arizona federal court as well as counterclaims in the instant suit, which was filed in 2014, without seeking permission from the bankruptcy judge, according to the complaint.

“Cogan and the Scharfs' malicious conduct caused injury, damage, loss or harm to Dr. Trabucco,” the complaint states. “Asserting what amounts to murder against Dr. Trabucco harmed his image in his profession and among the community.”

The state court suit was tossed for failure to prosecute while the federal suit went to trial in October and ended in a unanimous jury verdict in favor of Trabucco.

Cogan declined to comment.

Trabucco is represented by John D. “Jack” Wilenchik and Craig W. Broadbent of Wilenchik & Bartness PC.

Cogan represented himself and his firm, Jeffrey A. Cogan Esquire Ltd.