$409,000 Jury Verdict for the Wrongful Death Caused by the Failure to Honor Advance Directive

Rodney Knoepfle, 67, suffered from significant health problems. He had a history of stroke and orthopedic and cardiac problems. Before all this took place, he executed an advance directive, which designated his wife to make healthcare decisions and stated his desire to forego life-sustaining healthcare treatment should that become necessary. In other words, he signed this directive stating that he did not wish to be resuscitated in case of a deteriorating medical condition.

When Knoepfle began feeling poorly, he was admitted to St. Peter’s Hospital. He provided his advanced directive to the nurses and staff who entered a do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order into the hospital computer system.

However, two days later, Knoepfle became non-responsive, prompting a nurse to call for help. When no one responded to the call, the nurse called a code. The on-duty hospitalist, Dr. Lee Harrison, came to Knoepfle’s bedside and performed chest compressions for 10 to 15 minutes. Knoepfle was resuscitated; however, he then coded the following day. Dr. Harrison then gave Knoepfle adrenaline.

Knoepfle lived for another two years. During that time, his health continued to deteriorate, and he suffered a painful and undignified death. He was survived by his wife and two adult daughters. His wife sued Dr. Lee Harrison and St. Peters’ Health, which operated the hospital, alleging negligent violation of Knoepfle’s do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order. The Knoepfle family claimed damages for Knoepfle’s pain and suffering and for the $209,000 in medical expenses he incurred after the two resuscitations.

Following a jury trial, a judgment was entered in favor of the Knoepfle family in the amount of $409,000.

The attorneys representing the Knoepfle family were Mark Kovacich, Ben Snipes and Michael McKeon.

At trial, the Knoepfle family attorneys presented an expert in standard of care and medical ethics.

O’Donnell v. Harrison, No. CDV 2017-850 (Mont. Dist. Ct. Lewis & Clark County, May 23, 2019).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling medical malpractice lawsuits, hospital negligence lawsuits, wrongful death cases, traumatic brain injury lawsuits and birth trauma injury cases for individuals, families and loved ones who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of a medical provider for more than 40 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Forest Park, Crestwood, Oakbrook Terrace, Villa Park, South Holland, Summit, Bridgeview, Hickory Hills, Oak Lawn, Blue Island, Hazel Crest, East Hazel Crest, Tinley Park, Mokena, Matteson, Chicago Heights, Chicago (Chicago Lawn, Gage Park, Archer Heights, Fuller Park, Bronzeville, Hyde Park, Chinatown, Wrigleyville, Little Italy, East Garfield Park, Logan Square, Belmont Cragin, Dunning, Mont Clare, Lakeview, Ravenswood, Old Town, River North), Franklin Park, Bensenville, Elk Grove Village, Niles, Glencoe, Wilmette, Northfield and Deerfield, Ill.

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