Sharon M Sullivan Personal Representative Of Kevin J Sullivan Deceased v. Carlos E. Rojas et al

On March 22, 2024, the Duval County jury awarded $4,500,000 in damages to the Plaintiff in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit.

Case Background

The lawsuit was filed on July 14, 2020, by Plaintiff Sharon M. Sullivan, Personal Representative of Kevin J. Sullivan, deceased, in the Florida State Circuit Court of Duval County (Case number: 2020-CA-003950). Judge Virginia B. Norton presided over the case. Sharon M. Sullivan, on behalf of Kevin’s estate, filed a lawsuit against Dr. Carlos E. Rojas, Dr. Mat Vasquez, and Baptist Primary Care, Inc., alleging medical malpractice, wrongful death, and failure to meet the required standard of care in the medical profession.


Kevin Sullivan, a resident of St. Johns County, Florida, experienced burning chest pain for two days in January 2019. On January 17, 2019, Sullivan called 911 due to severe, constant chest pain. Emergency medical services arrived and performed an EKG, which was read as normal. However, Sullivan’s blood pressure was high, so paramedics transported him to Baptist Medical Center South in Jacksonville, Florida.

At the emergency department, Sullivan reported severe chest pain, rating it 10/10 in intensity. Hospital staff performed blood work, administered oxygen, and conducted another EKG. While the EKG was again read as normal, blood tests revealed elevated cardiac enzymes, particularly troponin levels at 0.45. As a result, Sullivan was placed on a nitroglycerin/heparin drip and given morphine for pain relief.

Sullivan was subsequently admitted to a telemetry floor at Baptist Medical Center South with a preliminary diagnosis of unstable angina/NSTEMI (Non-ST Elevation Myocardial Infarction). The treatment plan included continuing the heparin and nitroglycerin drips, along with administering a low dose beta blocker, atorvastatin, and aspirin.

Dr. Carlos Rojas, a hospitalist employed by Baptist Primary Care, assessed Kevin Sullivan upon admission. He discussed his care plan in detail with cardiologist Dr. Simone Nader. Later, Dr. Nader agreed with the proposed plan and determined that Sullivan was a candidate for left heart catheterization. The plan was for Dr. Nader to see Sullivan the following morning on January 18.

Throughout the night of January 17 and into the early morning of January 18, Sullivan continued to report dull chest pain. He complained of chest discomfort at approximately 6:22 PM, 9:25 PM, 11:45 PM, 12:13 AM, and 1:13 AM. During this time, Sullivan’s cardiac enzyme levels progressively worsened. His troponin levels increased from 0.45 at 4:45 PM to 2.27 at 12:32 AM.


As a direct and proximate result of the defendants’ alleged negligence, Kevin Sullivan suffered bodily injuries that led to his death on January 18, 2019. Sullivan experienced prolonged chest pain and discomfort throughout his hospitalization. His condition deteriorated as his cardiac enzyme levels, particularly troponin, increased significantly over time. Eventually, Sullivan went into cardiorespiratory arrest in the early morning hours of January 18.

Despite resuscitation attempts, medical staff could not revive him. The death certificate listed multiple factors contributing to Sullivan’s death. Ventricular fibrillation, a severe cardiac arrhythmia, was the primary cause. This was accompanied by NSTEMI (Non-ST Elevation Myocardial Infarction), indicating heart muscle damage due to reduced blood flow. The certificate also noted tobacco dependence and uncontrolled hypertension as contributing factors to Sullivan’s fatal cardiac event.


Sharon Sullivan, as Personal Representative of Kevin Sullivan’s estate, sought all damages available under the Florida Wrongful Death Act (F.S. 768.21 et seq.). She claimed compensation for the loss of economic support and services that Kevin Sullivan would have provided to his wife and children had he survived. The family also suffered the loss of companionship, protection, and guidance from Sullivan. Sharon Sullivan requested damages for the mental pain and suffering experienced by the survivors, including herself and their children.

The estate incurred significant medical expenses prior to Sullivan’s death, as well as funeral and burial costs, for which they sought reimbursement. Additionally, the plaintiff claimed damages for the lost prospective net accumulations to the estate, arguing that Sullivan would have contributed to the family’s financial well-being throughout his expected lifespan.

Key Arguments and Proceedings

Legal Representation



The plaintiff filed two counts of medical negligence in her lawsuit. The first count targeted Dr. Carlos Rojas and Baptist Primary Care, while the second count named Dr. Mat Vasquez and Baptist Primary Care as defendants. In both counts, Sharon Sullivan alleged that the defendants breached their duty to provide medical care that met or exceeded the prevailing standard of care for hospitalists. She claimed that this breach directly caused Kevin Sullivan’s death.

The lawsuit asserted that Dr. Rojas and Dr. Vasquez failed to properly assess, monitor, and treat Sullivan’s worsening condition, despite clear signs of cardiac distress. The plaintiff argued that the doctors’ negligence in not ordering additional tests, failing to communicate effectively with the cardiologist, and not responding appropriately to Sullivan’s elevated troponin levels directly led to his fatal cardiac arrest.


The defendants denied most of the allegations, including claims of negligence and breach of standard of care. They admitted to providing medical care to Kevin Sullivan but denied any wrongdoing or liability for his death. They claimed that the patient, Kevin Sullivan, was negligent in causing or contributing to his own injury and damages. This included allegations that Sullivan failed to seek timely medical care, provide a complete and accurate medical history, report changes in his health condition, and follow healthcare advice. Defendants asserted that any recovery by the plaintiff should be barred or reduced in proportion to Sullivan’s own negligence.

The defendants also sought apportionment of fault and limitation of damages, arguing that Sullivan’s injuries and damages were caused or contributed to by other parties. They claimed that independent and intervening causes, unrelated to their actions and beyond their control, led to Sullivan’s injuries. The defendants denied that their alleged negligence was the proximate cause of any injury or damage to Sullivan.

Expert Testimony

Plaintiff experts testified regarding the liability of Dr. Carlos Rojas and Dr. Mat Vasquez and how the defendants’ negligence caused injury to Kevin Sullivan. Dr. Borg testified regarding damages sustained in this case.

On the other hand, experts Dr. Joslin and Dr. Bartzokis testified in defense of Dr. Rojas and Vasquez. Dr. Joslin stated both doctors met the standard of care in their roles as hospitalist and nocturnist. He affirmed their proper handling of Mr. Sullivan’s case based on available information and existing treatment plans. Dr. Joslin explained the nature of their roles in cardiac workup and treatment of non-STEMI MI, emphasizing that neither doctor’s actions contributed to the patient’s death. Dr. Bartzokis focused on the cardiology aspect, stating the consultation on January 17, 2019, was appropriate and resulted in a suitable care plan. He testified that the patient’s condition warranted no further cardiology input before the scheduled catheterization. Dr. Bartzokis explained that the patient’s troponin levels were consistently low and not concerning from a cardiology perspective. Both experts provided detailed insights into cardiac care procedures and the interpretation of clinical indicators in this case.

Jury Verdict

The jury apportioned 60% of the negligence to Dr. Carlos Rojas and 40% to Dr. Mat Vasquez. The jury awarded damages to various parties. The estate of Kevin Sullivan received $50,000 for loss of net accumulations. Sharon Sullivan, Kevin’s wife, was awarded $510,000 for loss of support and $340,000 for loss of services. Additionally, she received $2,000,000 for loss of companionship, protection, and mental pain and suffering. The Sullivan children also received damages: Charles Sullivan was awarded $800,000, and Christine Sullivan $800,000, both for loss of parental companionship, instruction, guidance, and mental pain and suffering.

Court Documents:

Available Upon Request