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Jury in John Ritter Wrongful-Death Trial Recesses Without Reaching Verdict

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John RitterAP

The jury in the John Ritter wrongful-death lawsuit deliberated over five hours Thursday and retired for the night without reaching a verdict on claims against two of the actor's physicians.

During the deliberations the jurors sent several notes to the judge asking for access to written medical records and one scholarly paper that was mentioned during testimony. But most of the things they sought had not been entered in evidence and they were told the items were unavailable.

The jury did receive pages of notes written by one of the defendant doctors, cardiologist Joseph Lee, on the night Ritter died from a severely torn aorta at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank on Sept. 11, 2003.

The panel was to resume discussions on Friday.

Ritter's family is seeking $67 million in damages from Lee and a radiologist, Dr. Matthew Lotysch.

The lawsuit claims the radiologist failed to spot an enlarged aorta after giving the actor a body scan two years before his death and that the cardiologist committed malpractice after Ritter was brought to the emergency room.

Ritter was diagnosed with a heart attack before the real problem, called an aortic dissection, was discovered.

The doctors' lawyers told the jury in closing arguments that the physicians did nothing wrong.

Ritter, 54, became ill while working on his hit TV show "8 Simple Rules ... for Dating My Teenage Daughter."