Doctors cleared in death of TV's John Ritter

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Doctors who treated John Ritter after he collapsed on the set of his television comedy were cleared on Friday in a $67 million wrongful death lawsuit brought by the Emmy-winning actor’s wife and children.

Ritter, 54, died in a hospital in September 2003 after suffering a torn aorta while taping the ABC-TV comedy “8 Simple Rules... for Dating My Teenage Daughter.”

He was initially treated for a heart attack and his wife, Amy Yasbeck, and four children claimed he would still be alive if he had been correctly diagnosed and treated.

After a five-week trial in Glendale Superior Court, the jury cleared two doctors at the Providence St. Joseph Medical Center of wrongdoing.

Lawyers for the doctors had argued that Ritter had a very rare condition that would have been fatal whatever treatment he had been given and said the $67 million sought by the family would be catastrophic for the doctors.

The Ritter family has already received more than $14 million in civil settlements with the hospital and others in the case.

Ritter was best known for his role on the hit 1970s sitcom “Three’s Company,” for which he won an Emmy. He was taken to a hospital across the street from the Burbank studio where he was filming “8 Simple Rules” on September 11, 2003 after suffering chest pain, nausea and vomiting, and died several hours later. (Reporting by Jill Serjeant, editing by Dan Whitcomb and Doina Chiacu)