Articles Posted in Trial Procedure

The Illinois Appellate Court rejected a claim by the plaintiff, Ludgardo R. Castillo, that expert testimony was required only to establish the applicable standard of care. Also, the trial court did not err in indicating to Castillo that she would have to pay money to the defendant to reimburse defense counsel for expenses incurred in attending a California evidence deposition of plaintiff’s expert taken days before the scheduled trial. If plaintiff wanted that expert to appear live at trial: (1) the record reflected that the plaintiff was never formally ordered to pay defendant anything; and (2) the plaintiff failed to show any prejudice by her inability to have expert testimony live.

Lastly, the trial court was in error in allowing the defendant to question the plaintiff’s physician as to whether syphilis could be a source of her pain where the plaintiff was never diagnosed with this condition. Since the error related only to plaintiff’s damages and the jury never considered such evidence as the jury held in favor of the defendant on the issue of liability.

The plaintiff, Ludgardo R. Castillo, appealed from a jury’s verdict in favor of the defendants, Dr. Jeremy Stevens and Center for Athletic Medicine (CAM), on plaintiff’s claim of medical negligence.
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Angela L. McIntyre, as independent administrator of the estate of Donald R. McIntyre Jr., filed a medical malpractice case alleging that her late husband was negligently treated while he was a patient in the ICU at OSF St. Francis Medical Center.

The jury’s verdict was signed in favor of the McIntyre family and against some of the defendants for $1.1 million for loss of income, goods and services, and $500,000 for loss of companionship and society. The jury entered its verdict in favor of a third-year medical resident and her employer, the hospital, as to institutional negligence.

The appellate court found that the trial court had erred in excluding as hearsay the medical resident’s testimony as to what the on-call hematologist told her about McIntyre’s care, as it was not offered to prove the truth of any factual matter, but instead was to show why the resident and another physician acted as they did.
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In a medical malpractice lawsuit, the Missouri Supreme Court affirmed the judgment against the plaintiffs following a jury verdict in favor of the defendants. The state’s high court held that the circuit court did not commit reversible error when it refused to allow the plaintiffs’ attorney additional voir dire time so he could ask “the insurance question.” The lawyer had forgotten to ask it during his initial voir dire. The court referred to another Missouri case for support of its decision, Ivy v. Hawk, 878 S.W. 2d 442 (Mo. Banc 1994).

The Missouri Supreme Court has held that a party has the right to ask the insurance question during voir dire if the proper procedure is followed to avoid unduly highlighting the question. The Missouri Supreme Court noted, however, that Ivy did not divest the circuit court of its discretion to control the proper form and timing of voir dire questioning, including discretion as to whether counsel’s proposed procedure would unduly highlight the question.

The court then affirmed, holding that because plaintiff’s counsel forgot to ask the insurance question during multiple hours of voir dire, the court acted within its discretion. The lower court’s finding is that it would unduly highlight the question to allow counsel to recommence his questioning to ask the insurance question after voir dire had otherwise concluded.
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The Illinois Appellate Court reversed the Will County associate judge’s April 2017 decision to deny plaintiff Susan Steed’s post-trial motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict. In this case, Steed’s husband, Glenn Steed, suffered an Achilles tendon injury playing basketball. After the Feb. 17, 2009 injury, his right leg and ankle were placed in a cast two days after the injury by the defendant doctors at Rezin Orthopedics.

He was ordered to follow up in two weeks, but the receptionist at the defendant’s office did not schedule an appointment until March 13, 2009.

On Feb. 20, 2009, he told his wife that his cast was uncomfortable. Five days later he called the defendant’s office to have his follow-up rescheduled. The receptionist changed his appointment to March 12, 2009, but on March 8, 2009, he suffered a fatal blood clot that traveled to one of his lungs, resulting in his death.
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The Illinois Supreme Court unanimously ruled res judicata did not bar Gerald Ward from refiling his voluntarily dismissed lawsuit against Decatur Memorial Hospital. Although the decision of the Supreme Court was unanimous, it was split on the rationale. Ward was refiling a medical-malpractice lawsuit against Decatur Memorial Hospital for negligence that allegedly killed his brother, Clarence Ward.

A Macon County judge granted the hospital’s motion to dismiss the first three versions of Ward’s complaint. All of the orders included permission to replead, and none of the dismissals were “with prejudice,” though some claims were dismissed “without prejudice,” while other counts were asked without being labeled as “with” or “without” prejudice. As Ward fine-tuned the complaint, he abandoned some of the claims.

Shortly before trial was scheduled to start, Ward voluntarily dismissed the lawsuit under Section 2-1009 of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure and then refiled the case within a year based on code Section 13-217.
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Michelle Morrison, a senior account representative in the Alexian Brothers Behavioral Health Hospital’s billing department, sent a woman referred to here as “Jane Doe” and others “vile and shocking” letters on the hospital’s letterhead. Morrison was fired in July 2010 for using the hospital’s computer system for personal searches.

After this incident, Doe filed a lawsuit against the hospital alleging that Morrison’s actions “severely and adversely impacted the health and well-being of the [plaintiff].” Plaintiff claimed that Morrison’s letter was harassing and caused her emotional injuries.”

Morrison was criminally charged and eventually pleaded guilty to felony forgery charges. She testified at her deposition that she took home 50 patient records while she was employed. The hospital denied liability and claimed that Morrison’s “rogue behavior and criminal conduct” was the proximate cause of Doe’s injuries.
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A Texas Appellate Court has held that a trial court had not erred in denying a defendant’s motion to dismiss based on a plaintiff expert physician’s failure to perform the procedure at issue in the case within the last 20 years.

Alice Waggoner sued physician Dr. Carl Jones, maintaining that he breached the standard of care by performing an endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) before running another noninvasive test to determine whether an ERCP was necessary.

Under Texas law, the plaintiff served the defendant with an expert report by Dr. Perry Hookman, a board-certified physician in both internal medicine and gastroenterology.
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St. Luke’s Surgicenter-Lee’s Summit LLC appealed the circuit court’s judgment against St. Luke’s after a jury trial. The gist of the claim was for negligent credentialing. The claim had been brought by the plaintiff, Thomas E. Tharp and Paula M. Tharp, his wife. The jury found in favor of the Tharps and awarded damages. On appeal, the jury verdict was reversed by the Missouri Appellate Court.

“This case arises from a medical malpractice action against a surgeon operating out of St. Luke’s Surgicenter in Lee’s Summit, Mo. In December 2011, Thomas Tharp underwent a laparoscopic cholecystectomy — a surgical procedure to remove his gallbladder.”

The surgeon who handled the gallbladder removal applied for staff privileges at St. Luke’s in 2005 and renewed his privileges several times thereafter. Among other requirements, St. Luke’s required physicians applying for staff privileges to disclose whether they had ever been sued for professional malpractice and, if so, the number of lawsuits they had defended.
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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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On May 6, 2019, the Illinois Appellate Court overturned a $25,000 settlement between a patient and doctor and revived a potentially far greater contribution claim brought against the doctor by the patient’s employer.

The original lawsuit stems from a Federal Employer’s Liability Act (FELA) case wherein Antwon M. Ross sued the Illinois Central Railroad for damages when he was injured. Ross was a former freight conductor when he sued the Illinois Central Railroad alleging that he injured his head, neck, and back when he fell trying to board a train in January 2013.

Illinois Central then filed its claims against Dr. Sarmed G. Elias for medical malpractice alleging that his treatment was the cause of worsening injuries to Ross.
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