Montgomery -- A sharply divided Alabama Supreme Court ruled Friday that a $5.5 million judgment against a Mobile hospital should be cut to $3 million.

Robert E. Tyler sued the Mobile Infirmary Association and others for medical malpractice and wrongful death after his 72-year-old mother Lida Mae Tyler, died in the hospital on June 7, 1999. She was admitted to the hospital with an irregular heart rhythm, but developed intestinal problems from a blood clot that led to her death.

Robert Tyler contended in court that poor care caused his mother's death, including the hospital's nurse not relaying accurate information to a doctor's office about her pain. A Mobile County jury returned a $5.5 million verdict against the hospital, but did not issue a verdict against any other defendants.

On appeal, the hospital argued that the evidence did not show that is nurse provided improper care. The Supreme Court rejected that argument, with Justice Patti Smith writing that proper information about Tyler's abdominal pain "probably would have resulted in a surgeon performing an embolectomy, which Lida probably would have survived."

While all of the justices upheld the jury's decision against the hospital, a five member majority said the $5.5 million should be cut to $3 million.

Robert Tyler can accept the $2.5 million reduction in the verdict or have a new trial.

His attorney, Skip Finkbohner of Mobile, said no decision had been made.

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