Atwater's city councilmen brothers Jeff and Joe Rivero are suing Mercy Medical Center Merced, Doctors Medical Center in Modesto and three physicians for wrongful death over the 2008 death of their father, the late councilman Joe Rivero Sr.
The lawsuit was filed in early February in Merced County Superior Court. It alleges that Dr. Truong V. Thinh and Mercy as an entity failed to perform all necessary services of care when Rivero Sr., 75, came to the hospital Nov. 6, 2008, complaining of shortness of breath and upper gastric pain radiating to his left arm.
Robert McLaughlin, spokesman for Mercy, and Carin Sarkis, spokeswoman for Doctors Medical Center, both said because of the litigation they are unable to comment on the incident.
The suit claims the hospital negligently transferred Rivero Sr. to Doctors Medical Center where that facility, along with doctors Kamathan Madhuri and Leslie Baluyot, "were negligent in their care and treatment of (Rivero Sr.'s) cardiac condition which led to his demise."
Attorney Marshall Silberberg of Newport Beach said Mercy transferred Rivero Sr. by ground ambulance when he wasn't stable enough for the 45-minute ride. He claimed there were additional delays in his care in Modesto.
Silberberg suggested Rivero Sr. should have been airlifted to Doctors Medical Center or that Mercy should "let people in the community know if you have an acute issue, we can't serve you."
Rivero Sr. died just days after the 2008 general election that would have had him sitting behind the same dais as his son, Joe Rivero. The City Council held a special election in June 2009 to fill Rivero Sr.'s seat. That spot was won by another of his sons, Jeff.
Joe Rivero Sr. served on the Merced County Board of Supervisors from 1995 until 2002 and on the Atwater City Council from 2002 until his death.
Jeff Rivero declined to comment on the lawsuit Wednesday.
Reporter Amy Starnes can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.