$9 Million Settlement in Punitive Damages for Death Caused by Failure to Diagnose and Treat Pulmonary Embolism

Hope Johnson, 20, was a student who was considering hormonal birth control. In doing so, she underwent a blood test to determine whether she was at risk for blood clots. Although the test for Factor V Leiden was positive for a clotting mutation, Johnson’s treating ob/gyn told her that her Factor V Leiden results were normal.

About one month later, after starting birth control pills, she went to Auburn Urgent Care complaining of shortness of breath, chest pain, cough, headache and sore throat. She told the staff there that she was taking birth control pills. Dr. Zenon Bednarski, the owner and supervising physician of the clinic, diagnosed Ms. Johnson with pneumonia and bronchitis after an X-ray was taken. The doctor prescribed an antibiotic and sent Johnson home to return only if her condition worsened.

Ms. Johnson returned to the clinic two days later when her chest pain and shortness of breath became much worse. She reported these symptoms to newly hired Dr. David Willis who ordered a CBC (complete blood count), which showed an oxygen saturation level of 91. Dr. Willis performed no physical exam. He was unable to access Johnson’s medical chart from the previous clinic visit, diagnosed a high white blood count and shortness of breath and prescribed an inhaler. The very next day, Hope Johnson died of massive pulmonary emboli. She was survived by her parents and two siblings.

Johnson’s father, on behalf of her estate, sued Drs. Bednarsky, Willis and Auburn Urgent Care, alleging that they chose not to diagnose a pulmonary embolism. The Johnson estate claimed that Dr. Willis, the second doctor to see her, could not see Johnson’s medical records from the previous clinic visit because Dr. Bednarsky had decided not to grant him access to the patient medical records.

The lawsuit also alleged that the urgent care facility was not equipped to handle the large volume of patients coming to the clinic, which had just one doctor available and no registered nurse or physician assistant.

The Johnson family lawsuit also sued Johnson’s treating ob/gyn, alleging that the doctor chose not to correctly interpret the positive Factor V Leiden test results.

The Johnson estate settled with the ob/gyn before trial for an undisclosed amount. However, the jury signed a verdict for $9 million in punitive damages, finding all three defendants jointly and severally liable for the damages and the wrongful death.

The attorneys successfully handling this tragic lawsuit were Leila H. Watson, Nina Towle Herring and D. Brett Turnbull.

Johnson v. Bednarski, et al., No. 43-CV-2016-900204.00 (Ala. Cir. Ct. Lee County, Oct. 15, 2019)

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling wrongful death lawsuits, medical negligence cases, physician negligence lawsuits, obstetrician negligence cases and misdiagnosis lawsuits 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 Oak Brook, Lisle, Downers Grove, Glendale Heights, Bensenville, Elk Grove Village, Arlington Heights, Orland Park, Palatine, Palos Hills, Park Ridge, Morton Grove, Northfield, Glenview, Hawthorne Woods, Grayslake, Round Lake Beach, McHenry, Woodstock, Lake Villa, Morton Grove, Niles, Elmhurst, Chicago (Near West Side, Back of the Yards, Douglas, Chinatown, South Loop, River West, Near North Side, River North, Ranch Triangle, Bucktown, Roscoe Village, North Mayfair, Ravenswood Manor, Andersonville, Uptown, Rogers Park, Wildwood), Harwood Heights, Norridge, Rosemont, Hillside, Maywood, Oak Park and Forest Park, Ill.

Robert D. Kreisman has been an active member of the Illinois and Missouri bars since 1976.

Related blog posts:

$3.05 Million Jury Verdict for Failure to Timely Diagnose and Treat Ovarian Cancer

$267,500 Jury Verdict for Negligent Laparoscopy

$2 Million Jury Verdict for Injured Patient Caused by Misplacement of Surgical Mesh