At the end of July 2020, Michael Martin and his fiancée, Inger Tyree, had everything prepared for their wedding on August 1.
Because it was during the height of the covid-19 pandemic, Martin and Tyree were planning for their 125 guests to attend the Boyce Park reception in rotation so they could follow capacity rules while still enjoying their big day. .
But on July 22, Martin was not feeling well. He had a fever of 103 degrees, difficulty breathing and an extreme sore throat. He called UPMC Community Medicine and was referred to UPMC Mercy South Side for covid testing.
He also went to the emergency room and a quick test showed he had strep throat. He said he was given a dose of steroids and quickly felt better.
“I didn’t feel like I had covid,” Martin said.
The next day, however, the physician’s assistant at his doctor’s office called and told Martin that he had tested positive for covid. Martin was amazed.
“’You know I’m getting married? Are you sure? ” he said, he asked the physician assistant. “She said, ‘Yes, you have to call off the wedding. “”
And that’s what Martin did.
He immediately called all the salespeople they had hired and told his family and friends that the wedding was off. Martin said he lost $6,000 for costumes he rented for his five groomsmen, $3,325 for the photographer, and $4,800 for a DJ who had to be at the front desk from 9 a.m. to 2 a.m.
His fiancée was devastated.
The next day, the medical assistant called back and said she had misread the computer screen. Martin did not have covid, she said.
On Tuesday, Martin, 56, of Monroeville, filed a lawsuit against UPMC Community Medicine, Monroeville UPMC primary care partners and the physician assistant who reported the positive test result.
A UPMC spokesperson said it could not comment on the ongoing litigation.
On Wednesday, Martin described how difficult it was having to call off the wedding in the first place.
The family members planned to fly in, and Inger, who had previously married in a small ceremony, had been especially eager to see this larger event. She spent countless hours making centerpieces and buying chair coverings. There are still about $2,000 worth of banquet supplies in their basement, Martin said.
After being told he didn’t have covid, Martin said he tried to get everything back on track. But he said it was too late. The place was gone, and at this point in the pandemic people were still scared, he said.
The couple decided to wed anyway on August 1, 2020, and Martin said he tried to make it special.
He said a friend of a friend owned a yacht and was willing to charter it for the day. Martin, Tyree, their daughters, an aunt and the best man boarded the yacht at a dock along the Allegheny River in New Kensington and then spent the day on the water, where they exchanged vows.
“We didn’t have the wedding we wanted, but the ultimate goal was to get married,” Martin said.
Martin said he spoke to his doctor about the error and the doctor was sympathetic. He said he would speak with practice officials to try to help Martin recoup some of his losses, but nearly two years later Martin said the doctor told him no money would be paid. .
Martin said the lawsuit was partly about recovering some of the money he lost, but it was also about making sure what happened never happened again.
“People don’t want to take responsibility that this happened,” he said. “That mistake, she misread the screen. You misdiagnosed me and it caused me this turmoil.