Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

In October 2016, we reported about this important case on the Illinois law on relation-back and how it applies in a medical malpractice lawsuit. In the underlying case of Sheri Lawler, as administrator who sued on behalf of Jill Prusak, the University of Chicago Medical Center and Advocate Christ Hospital and some doctors for medical malpractice in 2011, it was claimed that the doctors and the hospitals misdiagnosed Prusak’s central nervous system lymphoma. She unfortunately died in November 2013 while the case was still pending in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Ill.

The ultimate question in this Supreme Court case was whether an amended complaint was time-barred under the four-year statute of repose; 735 ILCS 5/13-212. While the case was pending, Lawler’s daughter, Jill Prusak, brought the case on behalf of her mother’s estate and asked the court to add a wrongful-death claim to the lawsuit. The Circuit Court judge rejected the motion and denied the Lawler family to amend the complaint saying it was time-barred under the four-year statute of repose.

However, the Illinois Appellate Court for the 1st District reversed that decision under the premise of the “amendments” or relation-back statute; 735 ILCS 5/2-616. The defendants appealed that decision to the Illinois Supreme Court.
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Philip Madden suffered from numerous medical conditions including obesity, respiratory acidosis, congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, obstructive sleep apnea, obesity hyperventilation syndrome and hyperlipidemia. He was admitted to the Jesse Brown V.A. Medical Hospital in Chicago several times leading up to his last admission in December 2007.

When he returned for an outpatient appointment, it was found that his labs were abnormal. He was admitted to the hospital. At the time of his admission, the pulmonary consulting services described him as suffering from a wide range of medical issues.

Madden was placed in respiratory isolation. A week after being admitted, he suffered a cardiopulmonary arrest. Madden was intubated and resuscitated, but he never regained consciousness and died later at a long-term care facility.
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Jenny Copsey, on behalf of her late husband, Lance Copsey, filed a lawsuit against a radiologist, Dr. John Park, claiming that he chose not to properly analyze radiological images, which purportedly contributed to the her late husband’s fatal stroke.

The state’s court of appeals said that the evidence of negligence by Copsey’s other physicians who previously settled out of the case was properly admitted by the trial court because it was essential to provide Dr. Park with a fair trial.

The decision stated: “Evidence of nonparty negligence was relevant and necessary in providing Dr. Park a fair trial as it tended to show he was not negligence; thus, the alleged prejudice did not outweigh its probative value.”
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Kelly Wolfe was 56 years old when he was involved in a motorcycle crash. Paramedics from the city of Grand Prairie arrived at the crash location where they found him alert and breathing regularly. The paramedics attempted unsuccessfully to intubate Wolfe. The paramedics undertook the intubation even though Wolfe told the paramedics that he wanted to go home.

A helicopter service operated by PHI Air Medical Inc. came to the scene to transport Wolfe to a nearby hospital. Before the helicopter transport, the paramedics provided the PHI Air personnel with a paralyzing agent to facilitate Wolfe’s intubation.For some reason, the paramedics were determined that intubation was the thing to do.

Twenty minutes later, when Wolfe arrived at the hospital, he was deemed brain dead due to prolonged oxygen deprivation. Wolfe subsequently died. He had been working as a paramedic instructor, earning about $50,000 per year. He is survived by his three children, one of whom was a minor.

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Helen Manfredi, 85, underwent right colectomy surgery at Loyola University Hospital because of her colon cancer. She also had a large pre-existing hiatal hernia that was asymptomatic.

During the colectomy surgery, the surgeon decided to reduce the stomach organ, but the hernia was not repaired.

Four days after the colectomy surgery, April 29, 2011, Manfredi suddenly became unresponsive and required emergency surgery, which showed the stomach had become incarcerated with ischemia of portions of the stomach lining.
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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in Chicago has overturned a summary judgment order that was entered by a U.S. District Court judge over whether an insurance company, Sun Life & Health Insurance Co. (U.S.), should pay death benefits to the husband of the plaintiff when he died after tearing his left Achilles tendon.

Sun Life had moved for summary judgment claiming it was not responsible for paying the $92,000 death benefit to Lee Ann Prather, the wife of the decedent, Jeremy Prather. Prather injured his Achilles tendon while playing basketball. About two weeks after his surgery to repair the tendon, he died at age 31. A blood clot, or deep vein thrombosis (DVT) developed in his injured leg and had broken loose and traveled to his lung. The clot or pulmonary embolism caused cardiac arrest and his subsequent death.

Sun Life declined to pay the $92,000 benefit on the ground that Prather’s injury on the basketball court was not the sole cause of his death. Instead, Sun Life argued that the surgery that Prather underwent following the injury was a contributing factor to his death.
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This case arises out of an appeal taken after the Circuit Court of Cook County judge entered judgment on the verdict in favor of Dr. John Pantano and Suburban Lung Associates, S.C. in a medical malpractice action. The lawsuit, brought by the special administrator of the Estate of Viola Morrisroe, claimed that her death occurred after a bronchoscopy during which biopsies were performed by Dr. Pantano. It was asserted that the trial judge was in error for (1) barring Morrisroe’s expert from utilizing two CT scans during his testimony to demonstrate that the size of a mass in her lung had not increased in size; and (2) sustaining defense counsel’s objections to certain statements in plaintiff’s counsel’s closing argument relating to informed consent claim.

In 1999, Morrisroe was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and emphysema by pulmonologist Dr. Edward Diamond who was the president of Suburban Lung Associates, S.C. Her medical condition was monitored by Dr. Diamond and, in 2006, she began obtaining routine CT scans. In February 2009, a CT scan of her lungs indicated a new mass had formed in the upper right lobe. Dr. Diamond ordered further testing in the form of a PET scan. The PET scan indicated that, while unlikely, cancer could not be ruled out. Dr. Diamond discussed the results of the scans with her and recommended that another CT scan be performed in four months.

By 2009, Dr. Diamond’s examinations found that Morrisroe’s lung function had significantly decreased. While her lung function was at 40% in the beginning of the year, by the summer her lung function was only 26%, prompting Dr. Diamond to downgrade her COPD from “severe” to “very severe.”
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The appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court arose from the Circuit Court of Peoria County, which granted the motion of the defendants, Dr. Clarissa Rhode and Central Illinois Radiological Associates Ltd. The plaintiff — Randall Moon — filed a complaint under the Illinois Wrongful Act (740 ILCS 180/1, et seq.) and the Survival Act (755 ILCS 5/27-6). The complaint was dismissed as time-barred. The Illinois Appellate Court affirmed the dismissal and held that the two-year statute of limitations for filing the complaint began to run at the time of the decedent’s death and not after the plaintiff discovered defendants’ alleged medical negligence.

On May 18, 2009, Randall Moon’s mother, 90-year-old Kathryn Moon, was admitted to Proctor Hospital in Peoria, Ill., for rectal prolapse. On May 20, 2009, she underwent a perineal proctectomy. During her hospitalization, she experienced numerous complications including labored breathing, pain, fluid overload, pulmonary infiltrates, pneumoperitoneum, sepsis and an elevated white blood cell count.

On May 23, a CT scan of her chest and abdominal area was ordered. Dr. Rhode, a radiologist, read the CT scans on May 24, 2009. Randall W. Moon, who is Kathryn Moon’s son and the plaintiff in this case, returned from out-of-state to his mother’s bedside on the evening of May 27, 2009. Her oxygen levels had significantly dropped and she was not awake or responsive. Two days later she died in the hospital.
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The Illinois Supreme Court has agreed to accept for consideration a case appealed from the Illinois Appellate Court for the 1st District stating that this is a case of first impression. The case of Sheri Lawler v. The University of Chicago Medical Center was decided early this year, reversing a Cook County judge’s decision that disallowed an amendment to the medical malpractice lawsuit for wrongful death.

In the appellate court decision, the court held that the plaintiff’s estate was allowed to add new wrongful-death claims even after the statute of repose had expired.

The original lawsuit was brought by Jill Prusak who sued The University of Chicago Medical Center and Advocate Christ Hospital and a doctor and some others for medical malpractice in August 2011. It was claimed that the doctors and hospitals misdiagnosed her central nervous system lymphoma, a tumor affecting the brain or spinal cord as a macular pathology, which is a condition in a patient’s retinas.
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Betty Spotts fell and fractured her pelvis at her home on Feb. 10, 2011. The fracture required surgery at Ingalls Memorial Hospital. She was transferred to the defendant Providence Health Care in South Holland, Ill., on Feb. 14, 2011. Providence Health Care was supposed to provide a course of rehabilitation, including physical therapy and occupational therapy.

Just days after her admission to Providence Health Care, she began exhibiting symptoms of low oxygen levels (hypoxia) including shortness of breath, allegedly indicative of pulmonary emboli. Spotts was 81 years old.

Her symptoms got worse on Feb. 21, 2011, at which time a pulmonary embolism was diagnosed. She was readmitted to Ingalls Memorial Hospital where treatment was ultimately unsuccessful. She died on Feb. 22, 2011 survived by two adult children.
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