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John Ritter's Death 'Could Have Been Prevented'

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Feb 12, 2008 | 4:36am EST

Late actor John Ritter's life could have been saved by a simple chest X-ray, according to his family's lawyer.

The star was filming 8 Simple Rules in September 2003 when he was rushed to the hospital after suffering from vomiting and chest pains--and died hours after entering the emergency room.

Ritter's wife Amy Yasbeck filed a lawsuit against doctors at the Providence Street Joseph Medical Center in California, claiming her husband was misdiagnosed twice.

Yasbeck and her five children already settled for $12.5 million with the California hospital in which Ritter died--but now they are battling two New York doctors who have submitted subpoenas arguing that the hospital's medics were not negligent.

On Monday, Moses Lebovits, an attorney for the family, told a Los Angeles court the doctors failed to order a chest X-ray for Ritter--a move that would have discovered the torn aorta.

However, attorneys for radiologist Matthew Lotysch and cardiologist Joseph Lee told jurors that Ritter arrived at the hospital in grave condition and that they did everything they could to keep him alive.

They told jurors, "These doctors did nothing more than try to save Mr. Ritter's life. Dr. Lee did not save John Ritter's life, but he didn't kill him either.

"At that time there was nothing that could have been done to save his life."

The case continues.

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