Not guilty in laparoscopic surgery case.

Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois
Counsel: Steven C. Steinback and Heather T. Gilbert
Demand: $2 million
Asked: $1.3 million
Outcome: Not Guilty

This case involved allegations of negligence during laparoscopic surgery performed by co-defendant physicians which purportedly resulted in a laceration to Plaintiffs sigmoid colon and the need for subsequent surgery to repair the injury, including a colostomy and reversal of same.

Plaintiff alleged negligence in that surgery was not indicated for removal of the ovarian mass; co-defendant physician failed to obtain informed consent; co-defendant physicians’ utilized improper technique in performing the surgery; co-defendant physicians’ negligently lysed adhesions on the left pelvic sidewall when performing surgery to remove a right ovarian mass; co-defendant physicians failed to diagnose and treat the perforation intra-operatively; and co-defendant physicians were apparent agents of the Hospital. Defendants contended that surgery was indicated to remove the ovarian mass based on the patient’s complaints of pain in the region and the irregular appearance of the mass; informed consent was obtained for the surgery; the operative technique utilized was proper and in compliance with the standard of care; lysis of the adhesions on the left pelvic sidewall was necessary to obtain better visualization of the operative field; there was no evidence of injury to the sigmoid colon intra-operatively; and co-defendant physicians were neither employees nor agents of the Hospital.

Not guilty in failure to diagnose cardiomyopathy.

Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois
Counsel: Steven C. Steinback and Heather T. Gilbert
Demand: $1.2 million
Asked: $2,181,740.00
Outcome: Not Guilty

This case involved allegations of negligence in failing to diagnose and treat Plaintiff’s cardiomyopathy which resulted in stroke. Plaintiff recovered from the stroke, but had permanent disabilities with lost of motor and cognitive function.

Plaintiff maintained that the defendants failed to diagnose cardiomyopathy; failed to order an echocardiogram and cardiology consultation in 1998; failed to properly interpret EKGs; and failed to prescribe anti-coagulant therapy in 1999 for treatment of the “possible” apical thrombus. Defendants contended that they properly diagnosed and treated Plaintiff’s hypertension; the alleged failure to diagnose cardiomyopathy was non-sensical because the Defendants treated the condition which caused the cardiomyopathy; an earlier referral would have initiated the same treatment course as Defendants; anti-coagulant therapy in response to the “possible” apical thrombus was not indicated and would have been risky for a non-compliant patient; and an apical thrombus did not cause the stroke.

Not guilty after patient falls while hallucinating during delirium tremors.

Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois
Counsel: Patricia J. Barker
Demand: $400,000.00
Asked: $771,393.00
Outcome: Not Guilty

Patient presented to defendant hospital for an evaluation of four seizure-like episodes that he had experienced the day before in Florida. Patient had flown by himself from Florida to the hospital, and was alert and orientated at the time of the emergency room visit. Patient initially denied any alcohol, tobacco or drug use but his wife eventually informed one of the physicians that the patient was an alcoholic who previously drank half of a gallon of vodka per day. Patient also had a history of cancer. He continued to deny any alcohol use. Patient was given alcohol withdrawal medication and anticonvulsant medication in the emergency room, and was admitted to the hospital for further workup for the seizures, possible alcohol withdrawal syndrome, and possible brain metastasis. Hours after being admitted, but within minutes after patient’s wife left the hospital, he began hallucinating and experienced a fall, causing a fractured hip with open reduction internal fixation surgery.

Plaintiff alleged negligence in that the hospital through its nurses and residents failed to adequately medicate patient for alcohol withdrawal; failed to properly monitor the patient for alcohol withdrawal and fall prevention. The Defense contended that the hospital personnel properly identified the possible alcohol withdrawal; asserted he was properly medicated and treated given his alert and oriented presentations; and that, given his history, it was proper to admit him for further workup for possible brain metastasis as well as potential alcohol withdrawal.

Not guilty in cardiac arrest resulting in vegetative state.

Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois
Counsel: Chad M. Castro and Elizabeth E. Jaci
Demand: $1 Million of client; $2 Million – $4 Million high/low
Asked: $12 Million
Outcome: Not Guilty

The patient presented to the emergency department in respiratory distress and unresponsive, but was not entirely unconscious. Family members reported that the patient, a markedly obese man, had a history of asthma and may have overdosed on Seroquel. An exam indicated that he was suffering from pneumonia. He was intubated and treatment for pneumonia was begun. While it took a while to get an ICU bed, the patient seemed stable on transfer to the ICU. Several hours later his vitals changed and he suffered cardiac arrest despite medical intervention. He was resuscitated, arrested again and resuscitated, but sustained irreversible brain damage. He remained in a persistent vegetative state, ventilator dependent, until he died almost three years later.

The estate claimed x-rays taken at the time of hospitalization indicated congestive heart failure and pulmonary edema which defendants failed to diagnose and treat, causing the cardiac arrest. Defendants contended that all medical care and treatment was appropriate; the decedent was asthmatic and responded positively to nebulizer treatment; had no history of diagnosed or treated heart disease; and the x-ray findings were consistent with pneumonia and Seroquel overdose.

Not guilty in nursing negligence case.

Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois
Counsel: Steven C. Steinback and Timothy F. Dobry
Demand: $795,000.00
Asked: $567,000.00
Outcome: Not Guilty

This case involved allegations of nursing negligence in assisting Plaintiff from a sit to stand position after suture removal following a right shoulder arthroplasty. A post-incident MRI revealed “massive” rotator cuff tear. Plaintiff had to undergo two repair surgeries, but failed to recover full function of her dominant side.

Plaintiff alleged negligence in post-operative care while assisting shoulder arthroplasty patient from sit to stand which resulted in “massive” rotator cuff of non-operative shoulder, two subsequent surgeries, and permanent disability. Defendant nurse contended that the proper technique was utilized and the plaintiff’s injury occurred as she fell back into the chair while still holding onto Defendant’s arm; the standard of care did not require the use of an assistive device for the initial assist; and it was reasonable to utilize a gait belt after it became clear that Plaintiff was unable to stand on her own.

Not guilty in failure to treat syncope episode.

Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois
Counsel: Patricia J. Barker and Heather T. Gilbert
Outcome: Not Guilty

Plaintiff was being seen by defendant primarily for control of his hypertension, increased cholesterol and glaucoma. He was taking the drug Verampamil to lower his blood pressure. After a motor vehicle accident, Plaintiff was hospitalized for his injury. Defendant obtained neurology and cardiology consults to determine the cause of Plaintiff’s syncope. After a tilt table exam was performed, a diagnosis of vasodepressor induced syncope was made.

Plaintiff alleged negligence in that they failed to properly evaluate Plaintiff for a syncopal episode; failed to recognize that Plaintiff was an unstable patient requiring admission to the hospital; failed to properly evaluate Plaintiff for a possible seizure disorder; failed to “impress upon” Plaintiff the need for hospitalization; failed to advise Plaintiff to stop driving. Defendants contended that it was appropriate for defendant to consider both a neurologic and cardiac cause for the previous syncopal episode; the standard of care did not require hospitalization for a single isolated episode of syncope; the follow-up instructions and testing were appropriate; and one episode of patient reported syncope did not qualify a patient as “unstable.” Further, the treatment of Plaintiff’s hypertension was appropriate and Plaintiff was noncompliant with various instructions given by defendant.