Parents of ‘Jeopardy!’s Last Great Champion’ file wrongful death lawsuit

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Former Contestants for 500: This “Jeopardy!” contestant was the “final gift” to longtime host Alex Trebek and was labeled by social media as “Alex’s Last Great Champion.” 

The parents of five-time “Jeopardy!” champion Brayden Smith filed a lawsuit against a Nevada hospital for negligence and medical malpractice after he died suddenly at the age of 24 from clots in his lungs last year, according to multiple reports

One of Smith’s medical problems was ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory condition of the large intestine, which sometimes can lead to severe complications where a partial or complete removal of the colon is necessary, known as a colectomy, according to Medscape.  

This image released by Jeopardy! shows Alex Trebek, host of the game show "Jeopardy!"  Filling the void left by Trebek after 37 years involves sophisticated research and a parade of guest hosts doing their best to impress viewers and the studio that will make the call. 
(Jeopardy! via AP)

He was hospitalized in December 2020 and also January 2021 for worsening symptoms due to his inflammatory bowel disease, which caused more than 10 bloody bowel movements per day, leading him to become weaker and malnourished, according to a January 11, 2022 lawsuit.   

Medscape noted he later had a colectomy on January 15, 2021, at St. Rose Dominican Hospital-San Martin Campus in Las Vegas, but after he was discharged on January 19, he did not receive any blood thinners to prevent clots and subsequently collapsed at home on January 29, 2021, when he was rushed by ambulance to St. Rose Dominican Hospital, where he died a week later of bilateral pulmonary emboli, which are multiple clots in the arteries of the lungs that supply vital oxygen

A pulmonary embolism commonly originates from a deep clot in the legs that later travels to the arteries in the lungs, causing sometimes shortness of breath, chest pain when you take a breath, coughing with blood tinged sputum and can be life-threatening if not treated promptly, according to Mayo Clinic

Alex Trebek accepts the award for outstanding game show host for "Jeopardy!" at the 46th annual Daytime Emmy Awards.

“In a surgery such as this, the standard of care requires both mechanical and chemical anticoagulation,” said Dr. Keith Beiermeister, a colon and rectal surgeon retained by the Smith parents’ attorney, Robert E. Murdock. 

Smith’s legal complaint claims that the treatment he received in the hospital was below the standard of care because he didn’t receive blood thinners after surgery, according to Medscape.  


“Anticoagulants and mechanical anticoagulation are needed to prevent emboli. The medical literature is clear that patients undergoing colorectal surgery as compared to general surgery have a significant increase in the risk of emboli. This is especially true with preexisting inflammation as is present in inflammatory bowel disease,” Beiermeister said. 

Both the surgeon and the hospitalist noted in the progress notes that anticoagulants were prescribed, but there was no actual order for any blood thinners, according Beiermeister’s review of the chart

‘Jeopardy’ logo

A Dignity Health spokesperson, which operates St. Rose Dominican Hospital, said they don’t comment on litigation that is pending, but are reviewing the case, according to NBC News

Smith gained national fame on his championship run as one of the final “Jeopardy!” contestants hosted by Alex Trebek, who nicknamed him “Billy Buzzsaw,” according to an entertainment report

“Brayden Smith, the incredible young man who won five shows and $115,000 in January, passed away [last] year. Brayden’s family has established a fund in his name, and ‘Jeopardy!’ will be donating to that fund. We want to express our best wishes and condolences to his family,” said guest host Buzzy Cohen this past May. 

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