Not Guilty in Medical Battery and 1983 Claim

United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
Counsel: Steve Steinback and Chris Reeder
Demand: $500,000
Asked: No figure presented
Outcome: Not Guilty

Plaintiff, age 28, presented to the hospital in a manic phase after not taking medication for bi-polar disease. Plaintiff spent the night in the emergency room awaiting placement. Plaintiff woke the following morning and became verbally abusive to the staff. Plaintiff then barricaded himself in the room and threatened to throw an oxygen tank through a window. The hospital staff called the police department. Two officers responded and went into Plaintiff’s room with the emergency room physician. The emergency room physician provided Plaintiff with the option of calming down or receiving medication. Plaintiff’s agitation increased, and Plaintiff invited a fight. In response, the police officers Tasered Plaintiff and placed Plaintiff in handcuffs. Thereafter, a nurse administration medication pursuant to the emergency room physician’s order. Plaintiff alleged that the hospital staff committed medical battery and violated his civil rights by administering medication against his will. Plaintiff brought a §1983 claim against the police officers alleging excessive force. The defense maintained that Plaintiff needed treatment for his condition, and that use of a Taser was reasonable under the circumstances. The jury returned a verdict in favor of all defendants.

Not Guilty after multiple cardiothoracic surgeries and month long hospitalization

Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois
Counsel: Anne Scrivner Kuban and Krista Frick
Demand: None
Asked: $6.1 million
Outcome: Not Guilty

The decedent (M-25) was shot three times in the chest and neck area. He was taken to the hospital where he was admitted and monitored. A bronchoscopy and bronchial lavage were performed and a CT scan confirmed there were no air leaks and chest x-rays were clear. Over the course of three weeks, several more surgeries were performed due to internal bleeding and bleeding through the tracheostomy site. On March 24, the decedent underwent an emergency repair of a left lower lobe pulmonary artery pseudoaneurysm, an extremely rare but recognized complication of a gunshot wound. Subsequent surgeries including a partial lobectomy were performed on March 25th and 27th. The decedent died on March 31, 2006. He was unmarried, survived by four children ($750,000 medl., $25,000 LT per year as truck driver).

The estate contended that the surgeon failed to diagnose the source of infection and should have removed the infected lung. The defense argued that the care and treatment received was reasonable and appropriate and within the standard of care. The defense further contended that the cause of death was due to the multiple gunshot wounds as opposed to medical negligence. The autopsy by the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office concluded the cause of death was multiple gunshot wounds and classified the manner of death as a homicide.

Not guilty in failure to diagnose pneumonia.

Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois
Counsel: Pat Barker and Tim Dobry
Demand: None
Asked: $3 Million
Outcome: Not Guilty

Plaintiffs’ decedent, a chronic smoker for fifty years, presented to Defendant medical clinic complaining of shortness of breath and coughing. The patient had a history of chronic bronchitis, emphysema, COPD and had part of her lung removed. She was seen by Defendant physician who worked up the patient for approximately three hours, ultimately discharging her on antibiotics for a suspicion of pneumonia with orders to return the next morning for observation. She was instructed to go to the emergency room if her condition worsened during the night. The patient was brought home by her daughter that night, and after making her dinner, left her mother watching TV and went to bed. Plainttiff’s decedent passed away in the early morning hours of January 29, 2000.

There was also a negligent credentialing claim brought by Plaintiffs, claiming that the Defendant medical clinic improperly credentialed the Defendant physician; a physician of good standing of nearly thirty years.

Plaintiffs asked for 3 million at trial, but the jury returned a verdict of not guilty.

Fibromyalgia due to alleged PCA (Dilaudid) Overdose

Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois
Counsel: Patricia J. Barker and Elizabeth E. Jaci
Demand: $250,000
Asked: None
Outcome: A mistrial was declared after seven days of trial due to the loss of a juror and plaintiff’s unwillingness to stipulate to a verdict from less than 12 jurors.

Plaintiff claimed fibromyalgia resulting from an episode of respiratory depression secondary to Dilaudid PCA overdose, post bladder sling surgery. Plaintiff’s friend was pushing the PCA pump every ten minutes so that her friend would not wake up in pain. It was alleged that the nurses instructed the friend to push the pump.

Plaintiff voluntarily dismissed the case with prejudice three months later.

Wrongful Death – failure to diagnose subarachnoid hemorrhage

Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois
Counsel: Patricia J. Barker and Elizabeth E. Jaci
Demand: $2 Million
Asked: None
Outcome: Summary judgment initially granted to Defendant hospital during motions in limine; trial judge reversed himself five months later. Case settled for hospital for $425,000.

Death of 44 year old man due to alleged failure to diagnose acute subarachnoid hemorrhage during emergency room visit.

Not guilty after death due to pneumothorax or methadone intoxication

Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois
Counsel: Chad M. Castro and Krista Frick
Demand: None
Asked: $2.5 million
Outcome: Not Guilty

On July 10, 2007, the decedent was brought by ambulance to the emergency room due to complaints of shortness of breath. The co-defendant ER physician read the chest x-ray and diagnosed respiratory failure secondary to pneumonia based on a lower lobe infiltrate of the right lung. The x-ray film was not retained by the hospital. The decedent continued to experience increasing respiratory failure despite supplemental oxygen and breathing treatments. Five separate attempts were made to intubate the decedent. The decedent became asystolic, so aggressive CPR was begun and a tracheostomy was performed. Despite nearly three hours of resuscitative efforts, the decedent did not respond and passed away. He was survived by his mother and four sisters. An x-ray performed post-mortem revealed a tension pneumothorax in the lower right lung. Unknown at the time of treatment was the fact that the decedent had lethal levels of methadone in his blood as well as metabolites of heroin. The Cook County Medical Examiner determined that the cause of death was methadone and opiate intoxication.

Plaintiff claimed that the cause of death was an undiagnosed and untreated tension pneumothorax due to the fact that the co-defendant misread the x-ray which showed a tension pneumothorax. Plaintiff further contended that the defendants failed to timely diagnose and treat the tension pneumothorax. Plaintiff alleged that the standard of care required the co-defendant to perform a needle thoracotomy to treat a tension pneumothorax. Defendants contended that such a needle thoracotomy would have been reckless and dangerous. Defendants further asserted that the high levels of methadone along with severe cardiac and lung disease caused by years of cocaine abuse, heroin abuse, and heavy smoking, superimposed on a respiratory infection, led to the decedent’s rapid lung failure and death. Defendants claimed that the chest x-ray taken 20 minutes before the decedent’s death did not show a tension pneumothorax and that the tension pneumothorax present post-mortem was caused by the aggressive CPR and positive pressure oxygen administered in the interim.