Articles Posted in Trial Procedure

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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The State Supreme Court of Rhode Island has held that a trial judge improperly ordered a new trial based on the judge’s conclusion that a jury had misjudged the credibility of a witness. In this case, Stacia Aptt filed a lawsuit against Dr. Michael Baaklini alleging that the doctor had misdiagnosed her symptoms. He diagnosed her with a fatal kidney condition; she stated that this diagnosis caused her to suffer severe emotional distress.

At trial, the jury found in favor of the doctor. Aptt moved for a new trial. The trial judge, finding that the jury had come to the incorrect conclusion based on Aptt’s hyperemotional state while testifying at trial, ordered the defendant to agree to additur (added damages) or face a new trial on damages. The defendant appealed.

The State Supreme Court vacated and remanded the case noting that it is the fact finder’s duty to decide whether trial testimony is credible.
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In this medical malpractice lawsuit, injuries were suffered by the plaintiff, Lisa Swift, during a 2010 laparoscopic hysterectomy by the defendant Dr. David J. Schleicher. During this surgical procedure, Dr. Schleicher perforated Swift’s small bowel with three through-and-through holes. The doctor chose not to diagnose the perforations until four days after the surgery. Swift developed sepsis, needed a bowel resection surgery and then suffered additional complications that required hospitalization and home health care.

In addition to Dr. Schleicher, Swedish American Health System Corp. and its related companies were also made defendants. These defendants admitted that they caused the injury but argued that the injuries were not the result of negligence. At the end of the jury trial, the jury agreed with defendants and found in favor of them and against Swift.

The plaintiff Swift filed a motion for a new trial, which was denied by the trial court. As a result, Swift took an appeal arguing that the trial judge committed reversible error by (1) allowing evidence that plaintiff’s expert, Dr. Robert Dein, caused a bowel injury in 1989; (2) allowed cumulative defense testimony; and (3) declined to find the verdict against the manifest weight of the evidence.
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A neuropathologist, Dr. Meena Gujrati, and her employer, Central Illinois Pathology, were named as defendants in a medical-malpractice lawsuit brought by Rebecca Gapinski who alleged that this doctor misdiagnosed Daniel Gapinski’s brain tumor as being benign.

Right before the start of the jury trial, Dr. Gujrati requested permission to proceed with a substitution of counsel. The attorneys for the Gapinski family objected, arguing that the motion was tardy because the case had been pending for three years. However, the Gapinski family accepted a compromise, and the trial judge ruled that the defendants could have separate counsel, separate pleadings and separate experts if they were otherwise barred from double-teaming at trial.

The verdict for Gapinski was $1,727,409. On appeal, Dr. Gujrati and Central Illinois Pathology argued, among other things, that the judge erred in barring “dual representation.”
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