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.