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.