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Last Updated: Saturday, 15 March 2008, 00:09 GMT
Doctors cleared in Ritter death
John Ritter
Ritter died of a torn aorta after complaining of feeling unwell
A US court has cleared two doctors of negligence in a $67m (33.2m) wrongful death case brought by the widow and children of actor John Ritter.

He died of a torn aorta in 2003 after collapsing while taping a TV comedy.

The jury cleared Dr Joseph Lee, a cardiologist, and radiologist Dr Matthew Lotysch, of negligence in the diagnosis and treatment of Mr Ritter.

The Ritter family has already received $14m (7m) in civil settlements from the hospital and other medical workers.

Three's Company star

The family claimed the two doctors failed to spot crucial signs of his condition.

They said Dr Lotysch missed an enlargement of the aorta after a scan in 2001.

They also said Dr Lee failed to recognise the aortic dissection on the day Ritter died, instead treating him for a heart attack.

The family's lawyers attempted to show that Dr Lee had rushed to his diagnosis and neglected to order the chest X-ray that would have revealed his torn aorta.

The defence argued that Mr Ritter's condition was very rare and would have been fatal no matter what treatment had been given.

Amy Yasbeck
Yasbeck said she had lost "the love of my life and my soul mate"
The jury found that Dr Lee arrived after others had diagnosed Mr Ritter with a heart attack and had no time to order an X-ray.

They also agreed with the defence that Dr Lotysch had advised the actor in 2001 to have follow-up treatment with a physician but he had failed to do so.

"We feel very strongly that neither Dr Lotysch nor Dr Lee did anything wrong in this case," said the jury forewoman.

Lawyers for Mr Ritter's widow and children argued that the actor's death resulted in the loss of $67m in future earnings.

He is best known for his role in the 1970s sitcom Three's Company, for which he won an Emmy.

Mr Ritter, 54, fell ill on 11 September 2003 while working on the sitcom 8 Simple Rules For Dating My Teenage Daughter.

He died later that day at Providence St Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, California.

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