Articles Posted in Illinois Jury Trials

On appeal from a trial court decision, the Illinois Appellate Court answered that the circuit court abused its discretion and denied the plaintiff a fair trial by refusing to issue a non-pattern jury instruction. The instruction was about the loss of chance doctrine and a pattern jury instruction on informed consent in a wrongful death and medical malpractice case.

The appellate court answered that question in the affirmative and reversed the circuit court’s judgment in part and remanded the case for a new trial against certain defendants. However, on appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court, the appellate court was reversed in part and affirmed the circuit court’s judgment in its entirety.

This case involved the death of Joe M. Milton-Hampton; his case was brought by Joe M. Bailey, administrator of the estate. The medical malpractice case was filed in Cook County against the defendants, Mercy Hospital and Medical Center and several doctors and a nurse.
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This medical malpractice lawsuit alleged failure to diagnose and treat a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in a patient’s torn Achilles tendon before the DVT progressed to a fatal pulmonary embolism. The jury signed a verdict in favor of all of the defendants who were named in the case.

It was in this Illinois Supreme Court opinion that the trial court properly denied the plaintiff’s request for judgment notwithstanding the verdict against the defendant orthopedic clinic and the alternative motion for a new trial were likewise the correct ruling, denying that motion.

The jury was required to listen to the conflicting evidence tendered by both parties and to use that judgment to determine the truth. There was ample testimony that rebutted the plaintiff’s causation theory, and supported a reasonable conclusion that the pulmonary embolism resulting from DVT originating from an Achilles tendon tear was not the type of injury that a reasonable receptionist (the person who scheduled the follow-up visit) would see as a “likely result” of scheduling a follow-up appointment at three weeks, rather than two weeks.
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In this medical malpractice lawsuit, the plaintiff claimed the judge’s questioning of “Juror 3” coerced a verdict. The judge gave a Prim instruction (Illinois Pattern Jury Instruction, Civil No. 1.05; People v. Prim, 53 Ill.2d 62 (1973)) on the second day of deliberation after receiving two jury notes.

The first note said: “We are gridlocked at 11 to 1. We have tried persuading said person, but there is a refusal to listen to the law.”

In the second note, Juror 3 asked: “If I’ve reached my decision and the 11 won’t rest it, yet continue to try and sway my decision, at what point can this end?” A day later, when Juror 3 said that she was “experiencing elevated blood sugars and chest pain due to the stress of this deliberation,” the judge followed up with the second Prim instruction (I.P.I. Civil No. 1.06).
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