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Doctor cleared in LPGA golfer wrongful death case

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- A jury in Nevada cleared a Las Vegas physician Tuesday in a wrongful death and medical malpractice lawsuit stemming from the May 2010 suicide of LPGA golfer Erica Blasberg.

Jurors who heard five days of civil trial testimony deliberated less than an hour before finding Dr. Thomas Hess had no liability in the death of a woman who according to testimony harbored deep feelings of unhappiness even as she became a college golf star and a photogenic rising talent on the women's pro tour.

Hess, who testified earlier Tuesday that he had a "flirty" relationship with Blasberg, wasn't in the courtroom when the jury finding was read. He has maintained that he and Blasberg were friends, but didn't have a romantic relationship.

Hess' attorney, Kim Irene Mandelbaum, declined immediate comment after the jury finding was read in Clark County District Court.

Earlier, Mandelbaum urged the jury of four men and four women to remember that Blasberg's suicide letter said not to blame anyone.

Blasberg's parents, Mel and Debra Blasberg, who are divorced and live in Southern California, said they were disappointed in the finding but glad to have aired their concerns in court.

They accused Hess, now 46, who was married at the time, of pursuing a romantic relationship with their 25-year-old daughter - and of putting that interest ahead of her medical needs.

"We had a doctor much older than my daughter, who got involved with my daughter, and he crossed the line, and it affected my daughter," Mel Blasberg told reporters. "That's why we came here, not for money, but to let the world know there was more to what happened than Erica committing suicide."

"The court feels that, for whatever reason, he doesn't have the legal liability," Blasberg said.

Hess, a family practice doctor, pleaded guilty in December 2010 to a misdemeanor obstruction charge for removing the suicide note and some medications after finding Blasberg dead in bed at her Henderson home.

He said he removed the items to spare the Blasberg family, whom he had never met, anguish following Blasberg's death.

Hess didn't know Erica Blasberg had been seeing a psychiatrist for depression, his lawyer said, and he didn't prescribe the many medications that Blasberg took before going to bed with a dust mask over her mouth and a plastic bag over her head, secured by rubber bands.

The Clark County coroner determined that Blasberg committed suicide by asphyxiation, with a toxic combination of medications in her system.

Her suicide note said the prescription medications had been accumulated over time, and "I blame no one no one for the drugs I take this evening."

Blasberg was from Corona, California, where she was coached by her father before becoming an All-American in 2003 and 2004 at the University of Arizona. Her best year as a professional was 2008, when she tied for eighth at the SBS Open in Hawaii and earned more than $113,000 in winnings, according to the LPGA.

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FRANCINE May 14 2014 at 5:33 AM

Looks like her vulnerability was exploited by ..... everyone. Too bad so many people seemed to have their own selfish reasoning for an interest in her. it takes a LOT of pain for that final act. Everyone who was in her life can now live with it.

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1 reply
Joan Zawacki FRANCINE May 14 2014 at 7:38 AM


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docbobvet May 14 2014 at 8:22 AM

When are people going to get a grip??This is all crap! It doesn't go your way, you cry you sue you berate, you go on TV..........MAN UP WOMEN!!!! PUL UP YOUR BIG BOY PANTS AND GROW SOME BALLS ALREADY.

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Jim May 14 2014 at 8:30 AM

Did I just read that the father said we did not do this for the money. Ya ok Dad, thats a funny one.

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Truwriter May 14 2014 at 8:31 AM

Law enforcement investigators can tell you that often families look for someone to blame for a relative's suicide. Why? Because they lash out at others to cope with the nagging feeling that they should have acted or intervened to help. They sometimes cling to the idea that someone murdered their child, or that there is a police coverup and corruption. Knowing that the media will run with those kinds of stories, the families are happy to destroy others (again) to find a way to not accept that they may have failed their child. They may not have, there may be nothing that could be done but they make accusations pointing elsewhere for their own comfort. Note that they were fine with the verdict and just wanted "express their concerns publicly" which translates into creating a story, though not true, that someone else did something wrong and they did not fail. It is common in suicide cases. EVen though it defames others they cling to that hope that someone else is at fault, not them

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1 reply
skiertennis Truwriter May 14 2014 at 9:15 AM

A doctor that knows how to get into their clients bedroom is the evidence trail. The doctor has done a full body inspection...in her house.

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wardenls May 14 2014 at 8:46 AM

Adds new meaning to (What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas)

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flhx14 May 14 2014 at 8:52 AM

I cant believe the harshness of some comments here...condolences to family and friends and hopefully you can find closure now.

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rantaki2001 May 14 2014 at 9:01 AM

Deja Vue from the 30's to present and beyond. Good Luck? You wonder what qualifications these jurors have, the system failed this young lady what a pity my condolences to her family. As to that derelict doctor he will rot in hell.

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skiertennis May 14 2014 at 9:12 AM

Her doctor is a scumbsg! Praying on hot young naive objects of desire that obviously has an emotional issue.

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hey May 14 2014 at 9:15 AM

a 'girl' of 25 knows what she is doing, some time life is just too hard for people and they choose suicide, maybe the pressure of winning was too much , or her own parents pressures or their divorce, no matter what it is the person themselves who made the choice. you dont have to make money all the time

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1 reply
jerachrome hey May 14 2014 at 9:27 AM

Obviously, she did NOT know what she was doing. Physically, she was in excellent health. Professionally she had great prospects. She was a free US citizen. Her objective situation would be the envy of over 99 percent of Americans. In summary, she had everything going for her, and she threw it away. That's clear evidence she did not know what she was doing. The big question is why?

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1 reply
alexandramariemc jerachrome May 14 2014 at 9:43 AM

depression. its a deadly disease.

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rdel125 May 14 2014 at 9:29 AM

It is very unfortunate for this young life to perish like that. The doctor, having acess to her home, prescribed her medication and only he knows what kind of an affair was going on. To me he is suspect in this wrong doing. Who knows maybe she was going to reveal this to his wife and foul play came into play. One never knows when cheating is involved. I hope the parents can receive some kind of peace to losing their daughter.

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1 reply
OSHP367 rdel125 May 14 2014 at 9:34 AM

"and he didn't prescribe the many medications that Blasberg took".....

You really should learn to read. And stop gossiping.

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