A 6-year-old child suffered from fatigue, constipation, fever, pain and sleeping difficulties for several weeks. The girl was brought to a federal health clinic by her parents. A nurse practitioner examined her, diagnosed constipation and prescribed a suppository and juice. Two days later, a pediatrician confirmed the same misdiagnosis and prescribed MiraLax.

The child’s condition continued to deteriorate. Her parents brought her to the hospital a few days later. At that time, an x-ray showed a massive distension of the child’s spleen and an enlarged liver.

The girl was then life-flighted to another hospital where she was diagnosed as having acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Continue reading

This lawsuit arose out of a wrongful-death and medical malpractice case brought by the plaintiff, Lawanda Freeman. She was the special administrator of the estate of her deceased husband, Terrance Freeman. In her complaint against the defendant, Gayle R. Crays, M.D., she alleged that Dr. Crays was negligent in the treatment of Terrance’s cardiovascular disease and that negligence was the proximate cause of Terrance’s death. Right before the trial was set to start, the trial judge ruled that Freeman’s only expert witness was unqualified to offer any opinions on the issue of causation, thus creating a fatal evidentiary gap in the plaintiff’s case.

In response to the trial judge’s ruling barring this expert witness, Freeman moved to voluntarily dismiss her complaint. The trial judge granted the voluntary dismissal without prejudice.

Shortly thereafter, Freeman refiled her complaint. Upon learning that Freeman intended to disclose an additional or new medical expert witness to offer opinions on the issue of causation, Dr. Crays’ lawyers moved to adopt the rulings from the earlier case and bar any testimony of plaintiff’s newly disclosed expert opinion pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 219(e).
Continue reading

The Illinois Appellate Court has ruled that Judith Simpkins’s amended complaint against St. Elizabeth’s Hospital was not timed-barred. The Illinois Appellate Court denounced discovery that includes the series of “routine practices” including boilerplate objections and “dump truck disclosures” as amounting to a “misuse of the discovery process” that “should not be accepted by our trial courts.”

A dissent was filed by Justice Richard P. Goldenhersh who said that the majority’s directions “invade the discretionary province of the trial court in determining discovery disputes. The circuit court on remand is perfectly capable of resolving these and similar discovery disputes without appellate mandate predetermining the exercise of their discretion.”

The appeals panel majority stated that discovery is not a tactical game, but rather a procedural tool for ascertainment of truth for purposes of promoting either a fair trial or a fair settlement. Ostendorf v. International Harvester, 89 Ill.2d 273 (1982). The Illinois Supreme Court rules regarding discovery represent our Supreme Court’s best efforts to manage the complex and important process of discovery. Sullivan v. Edward Hospital, 209 Ill.2d 100 (2004).
Continue reading

In an unfortunate suicide by Keith Stanphill, a lawsuit was brought by Zachary Stanphill against a social worker, Lori Ortberg, and the hospital with which she was affiliated. She saw Keith Stanphill at Rockford Memorial Hospital just nine days before his suicide. Ortberg is a licensed clinical social worker.

During the jury instruction conference, the defendants requested and were granted leave to submit to the jury a special interrogatory. The special interrogatory followed the format approved by the Illinois Appellate Court in Garcia v. Seneca Nursing Home, 2011 IL App (1st) 103085.

The special interrogatory asked: “Was it reasonably foreseeable to Lori Ortberg on Sept. 30, 2005 that Keith Stanphill would commit suicide on or before Oct. 9, 2005?”
Continue reading

Matthew Hipps, 44, was to undergo abdominal surgery, which required stenting of his urethra. He consented to having the catherization done by the head of the urology department at Virginia Mason Medical Center. While in the midst of the catherization, a urology fellow placed a tube inside Hipps’s urethra, which met with resistance. The fellow then used a hemostat to open the tip of Hipps’s penis before placing the catheter inside the urethra. A hemostat, which is also called a hemostatic clamp, is a surgical tool most often used to control bleeding.

As a result of the forced opening of the urethra, Hipps suffered a tear and developed scarring inside his urethra. He now suffers discomfort when engaging in intercourse and has difficulty urinating.

Hipps sued the hospital alleging that the fellow negligently used the hemostat during the procedure and improperly dilated the urethra. The lawsuit did not include lost income.
Continue reading

Nicole Hill was 33 years old when she went to the hospital emergency room complaining of acute lower back pain, as well as hip and leg pain. An emergency department doctor prescribed pain medication and sent her home.

Hill’s pain continued and as a result, she came back to the same hospital two weeks later telling the same doctor that her symptoms had increased and that she was suffering numbness and incontinence. She again was released with instructions to obtain an outpatient MRI.

Hill went to another hospital, this time a week later, and was diagnosed as having cauda equina syndrome and a massive disk herniation at level L5-S1. This condition is a medical emergency in most instances.

Continue reading

The Illinois Appellate Court affirmed a jury’s $7.9 million general verdict against a physician, Dr. Yasser Alhaj-Hussein, who did a celiac plexus block procedure on one of his patients, Kathy Arient. The procedure was performed at Orland Park Surgical Center. After the procedure, Arient experienced numbness in her legs and was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Chicago Heights, Ill., where it was determined that she had experienced a vasospasm resulting in her paraplegia.

About two and a half months later, Arient and her husband, Terry Arient, filed a lawsuit against Dr. Hussein for medical malpractice and loss of consortium. Kathy died on June 9, 2014 of a stroke and Terry was substituted as the executor of Kathy’s estate. The lawsuit was amended to allege wrongful death and survival actions, including the medical negligence count of the lawsuit.

At the jury trial, Arient introduced a motion in limine, seeking to bar the defendants from introducing evidence of or making any reference to Kathy’s history of smoking. Dr. Hussein and his lawyers argued that the smoking habit was a link to being extremely opiate tolerant. In fact, it was argued that Kathy’s smoking habit was a reason Dr. Hussein felt the need to administer a celiac plexus block to relieve her chronic pain. Opiates and implanted pumps had not been effective in controlling her pain. The trial judge granted that motion to exclude smoking.
Continue reading

In this medical malpractice lawsuit, injuries were suffered by the plaintiff, Lisa Swift, during a 2010 laparoscopic hysterectomy by the defendant Dr. David J. Schleicher. During this surgical procedure, Dr. Schleicher perforated Swift’s small bowel with three through-and-through holes. The doctor chose not to diagnose the perforations until four days after the surgery. Swift developed sepsis, needed a bowel resection surgery and then suffered additional complications that required hospitalization and home health care.

In addition to Dr. Schleicher, Swedish American Health System Corp. and its related companies were also made defendants. These defendants admitted that they caused the injury but argued that the injuries were not the result of negligence. At the end of the jury trial, the jury agreed with defendants and found in favor of them and against Swift.

The plaintiff Swift filed a motion for a new trial, which was denied by the trial court. As a result, Swift took an appeal arguing that the trial judge committed reversible error by (1) allowing evidence that plaintiff’s expert, Dr. Robert Dein, caused a bowel injury in 1989; (2) allowed cumulative defense testimony; and (3) declined to find the verdict against the manifest weight of the evidence.
Continue reading

In October 2016, we reported about this important case on the Illinois law on relation-back and how it applies in a medical malpractice lawsuit. In the underlying case of Sheri Lawler, as administrator who sued on behalf of Jill Prusak, the University of Chicago Medical Center and Advocate Christ Hospital and some doctors for medical malpractice in 2011, it was claimed that the doctors and the hospitals misdiagnosed Prusak’s central nervous system lymphoma. She unfortunately died in November 2013 while the case was still pending in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Ill.

The ultimate question in this Supreme Court case was whether an amended complaint was time-barred under the four-year statute of repose; 735 ILCS 5/13-212. While the case was pending, Lawler’s daughter, Jill Prusak, brought the case on behalf of her mother’s estate and asked the court to add a wrongful-death claim to the lawsuit. The Circuit Court judge rejected the motion and denied the Lawler family to amend the complaint saying it was time-barred under the four-year statute of repose.

However, the Illinois Appellate Court for the 1st District reversed that decision under the premise of the “amendments” or relation-back statute; 735 ILCS 5/2-616. The defendants appealed that decision to the Illinois Supreme Court.
Continue reading

Galina Volodina, a 42-year-old breast cancer survivor, complained of gastrointestinal pain. She underwent a stomach biopsy, which pathologist Dr. Kanta Davessar reported as being benign.

About 14 months later, she developed a lesion in her uterus and was then diagnosed as having malignant signet ring cell carcinoma thought to have originated from her stomach. Despite chemotherapy, she died less than a year later. She had been an office worker making between $40,000 and $50,000 per year. She is survived by her husband and two minor children.

Volodina’s family sued Dr. Davessar and her practice alleging that she chose not to timely diagnose a malignant stomach lesion at the time of the first biopsy. It was argued that had the defendants interpreted the biopsy correctly, she would have been diagnosed at Stage I or early Stage II, giving her an 80% chance of survival.
Continue reading