Articles Posted in Illinois Civil Procedure

Ferid Okic’s common bile duct was damaged during a routine gallbladder removal surgery. His injury went undiagnosed for over a month, requiring corrective surgery and significantly delaying Okic’s recovery. Okic sued his surgeon, Dr. Athanasios Diniotias, alleging that both the surgeon negligently performed the surgery and that he was negligent in providing postoperative care.

Most significantly, Okic did not retain an expert qualified to testify regarding the applicable standard of care for performing gallbladder removal surgery.

Just before the beginning of the trial, the trial judge granted several of the defendant’s — Dr. Diniotias’ — motions in limine, including ones barring him from presenting any evidence related to the performance of the surgery because of the absence of expert testimony on this issue. In any event, the jury found against Okic and in favor of Dr. Diniotias and on Okic’s remaining theory of negligence.
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The Illinois Supreme Court was asked to determine whether this special interrogatory given to the jury in this lawsuit was in proper form and whether the jury’s answer to the special interrogatory was inconsistent with its general verdict in the plaintiff’s favor.

The Circuit Court of Winnebago County held that the jury’s answer to the special interrogatory was inconsistent with the general verdict and entered judgment in favor of the defendants. The Illinois Appellate Court reversed, 2017 IL App (2d) 161086, finding that the special interrogatory was not in proper form and, therefore, should not have been given to the jury.

In addition, the court determined that because the special interrogatory was ambiguous, the jury’s answer was not necessarily inconsistent with its general verdict. For those reasons, the Illinois Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the appellate court.
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In August 2013, Alexis Dameron underwent surgery at Mercy Hospital and Medical Center where she claimed to have sustained injuries due to medical negligence. She filed a medical malpractice case against Mercy and various employees at the hospital on Nov. 6, 2014.

During discovery, she disclosed that Dr. David Preston would be testifying as an expert witness, presenting evidence drawn from an electromyogram and EMG study yet to be performed. The EMG was to take place on June 1, 2017, but Dr. Preston’s report was not included in the record.

Dameron moved to designate Dr. Preston a “nontestifying expert consultant,” stating that Dr. Preston’s designation as a testifying expert witness had been “inadvertent.”
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This interlocutory appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court was dismissed. A supervisory order was entered remanding the case back to the trial court.

The plaintiff in this case filed a wrongful death and survival action lawsuit alleging medical malpractice of the defendant Union Health Service. The defendant alleged immunity under Section 26 of the Voluntary Health Services Plans Act. The Circuit Court of Cook County judge denied defendant’s Section 2-619 motion on the grounds that a 1988 amendment to Section 26 is unconstitutional.

The denial of the motion to dismiss is an interlocutory ruling, and it was found not to be subject to review by the Supreme Court under Rule 302(a)(1).
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On April 21, 2011, Gail Osten had a screening mammogram. The “technologist” at the screening noticed a slightly inverted left nipple and a brown discharge, which Osten had not noticed before.

The mammogram revealed bilateral benign calcification and no other masses or malignancy. No further tests were ordered. In December 2011, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She died on March 19, 2015.

On Jan. 20, 2017, Joseph Osten, as special administrator for Gail Osten’s estate, filed suit against Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation, Nye Partners in Women’s Health and three of the medical providers who treated Osten in April 2011.
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The plaintiff Mary Sikora was the independent administrator of the estate of Chris Allan Sikora, deceased. Sikora brought a lawsuit against the defendant, Nirali R. Parikh, M.D., and ManorCare of Elk Grove Village Ill., LLC d/b/a ManorCare of Elk Grove Village, in the death of her husband from a pulmonary embolism. The case went to a jury trial; the jury returned a verdict in favor of both defendants.

Sikora moved for a new trial based in part on Dr. Parikh’s attorney’s closing argument. Dr. Parikh’s attorney asked the jury to place itself in Dr. Parikh’s shoes. The attorney allegedly violated a pretrial in limine order, which barred any mention of Sikora’s initial refusal to be transferred to the hospital on the day he died.

The trial court agreed that Dr. Parikh’s attorney had made improper remarks during closing argument and found the cumulative effect of those errors sufficiently prejudicial to warrant a new trial.
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On May 13, 2015, Millicent Mnookin suffered a sudden drop in oxygen followed by cardiac arrest while she was under general anesthesia for surgery at Northwest Community Hospital. She was taken to an intensive care unit but died just two weeks later.

Mnookin’s husband, Barry Mnookin, who was appointed executor of her estate, filed a lawsuit against several defendants, including Northwest Community Hospital and Dr. Syed Ahmed, who had been her anesthesiologist. The lawsuit alleged negligence by Dr. Ahmed as an employee of Northwest Community Hospital.

During the discovery process, her husband’s attorney sent Northwest Community Hospital requests for production of documents. The hospital filed a privilege log, identifying 24 documents that it asserted were privileged and protected from discovery under the Medical Studies Act. He moved for an in-camera inspection of all of the allegedly privileged documents. In response, the trial court asked Northwest Community to “redact the portion of each privileged document for which [Northwest] claimed privileged.” Northwest redacted the entire text of every document, leaving only the printed headline.
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According to the report of this case, the Illinois Appellate Court has reversed the dismissal of a medical malpractice case. The case had been dismissed by the trial judge on the ground that the plaintiff did not meet the requirement of filing the 90-day certificate of merit, which is required by Section 2-622 of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure.

A doctor’s affidavit, which was filed late, should not have been enough to reject a medical malpractice lawsuit, the appeals panel ruled.

According to the Illinois Appellate Court opinion, the Cook County Circuit Court judge abused his discretion when he dismissed Earnest and Mildred Lee’s lawsuit against Rush Oak Park Hospital and Dr. Juan Cobo. The circuit court judge dismissed the case because they did not file their Health Professional’s Report within the 90-day window.
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Under the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure Section 2-1009, an Illinois plaintiff is allowed to voluntarily dismiss all or part of a claim without prejudice before a trial or a hearing begins. The statute allows this process upon payment of costs. Related to Section 2-1009 is Illinois Supreme Court Rule 219(e), which states, “A party shall not be permitted to avoid compliance with discovery deadlines, orders or applicable rules by voluntarily dismissing a lawsuit.”

Continuing, Rule 219 says: “In establishing discovery deadlines and ruling on permissible discovery and testimony, the court shall consider discovery undertaken (or the absence of same), any misconduct, and orders entered in prior litigation involving a party. . .”

In the case of Boehle v. OSF Healthcare System, a medical-malpractice lawsuit, the claim was for a failure to diagnose and treat a cancerous growth in the spine of the patient.
The alleged medical negligence led to the death of the plaintiff’s son.
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A medical malpractice lawsuit arising from the death of Jeannette Turner first resulted in a jury verdict of $22.1 million in this medical malpractice, wrongful death lawsuit. Sadly, Turner died the night before the jury’s verdict. According to the report of this Illinois Appellate Court case, her death transformed her medical-malpractice lawsuit into a survival claim for Joi Jefferson, Turner’s daughter and the special representative of her estate. As a result, Jefferson was unable to recover compensation that was awarded for any injuries Turner would have suffered in the future.

“Compensatory tort damages are intended to compensate plaintiffs, not to punish defendants,” Justice Mary Anne Mason wrote in the 23-page opinion. “We would run afoul of this principle if we allowed Jeannette’s estate to collect an award for future injuries Jeannette will no longer suffer. For this reason, we limit plaintiff’s recovery to compensation for injuries Jeannette suffered prior to her death.”

Turner had sued Mercy Hospital & Medical Center in 2006 claiming that the hospital’s doctors chose not to care for her after installing a tracheostomy tube in her windpipe. A blood clot developed, causing her to go into respiratory arrest. She suffered serious brain damage after she was without oxygen for 20-25 minutes.
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