Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

Six days after undergoing hip replacement surgery and rehabilitation, Alice Underwood, 82, was admitted to Victor Valley Global Medical Center for treatment of a urinary tract infection and dehydration. She suffered a surgical site infection while she was hospitalized, which caused her incision to separate.

Underwood underwent surgery to remove necrotic tissue, after which she was sent to a rehabilitation facility. Twenty-six days later, she died of cardiopulmonary arrest and infection. Underwood was survived by her three adult daughters and a son.

The Underwood family, through a daughter, individually and on behalf of the Underwood estate, sued the hospital alleging it chose not to provide wound care to Underwood for 12 days during her hospitalization. The lawsuit also alleged that the hospital’s nurse negligently sent Underwood to the rehabilitation facility without the appropriate and necessary antibiotics.
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LaQuinta Murray experienced severe pain in her lower extremities. She was just 29 years old at the time. She was admitted to Centennial Hills Hospital Medical Center with a diagnosis of sickle cell crisis, chronic anemia and strep throat. Dr. Mandip Arora ordered both opioid and non-opioid analgesics, as well as strict recording of Murray’s urine output.

Over the next four days, Murray was administered Toradol. She experienced critically high potassium levels and decreased urine output, but the nurses chose not to record this.

Murray then suffered renal failure, which led to fatal cardiac arrest. Murray had been a CNA. She was survived by her husband and minor child.
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Vincent Minor was 28 years old when he underwent gastric bypass surgery. He developed an obstruction, which caused his stomach contents to back up above his lap band. During the surgery to remove the lap band, he began vomiting and aspirated vomit.

He later developed pneumonitis and acute respiratory distress syndrome and remained in a vegetative state until he passed away a month later. Minor was survived by his parents and two siblings.

The Minor family sued Dr. Joyce Hairston, the treating anesthesiologist, alleging that she had chosen not to place a nasogastric tube and failed to evacuate Minor’s stomach contents before intubating him. The lawsuit did not claim lost income.
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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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After Ernestine Wilson’s 23-year-old son Brian Curry died from a saddle pulmonary embolism (a blood clot that blocked the large pulmonary artery straddling his lungs), she sued emergency room physician Dr. Eric Moon and Chicago’s St. Bernard Hospital. She claimed that the doctor was negligent in choosing not to diagnose and treat her son’s condition and that the hospital was also liable because of its principal-agent relationship with the doctor. Dr. Moon denied negligence and the hospital moved for summary judgment on the ground that the doctor was an independent contractor.

Wilson reached a settlement with the hospital, but at the trial six weeks later, the doctor called the hospital’s retained expert in pulmonary medicine. The witness testified that Brian’s signs and symptoms did not suggest pulmonary embolism and that what subsequently occurred was a sudden and unsurvivable medical condition regardless of the doctor’s efforts.

Dr. Moon generally adopted the hospital’s expert opinions and thus was not required to submit a second 213(f)(3) disclosure containing all of the same information of an earlier disclosure once the hospital settled with Wilson for the plaintiff.
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This interlocutory appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court was dismissed. A supervisory order was entered remanding the case back to the trial court.

The plaintiff in this case filed a wrongful death and survival action lawsuit alleging medical malpractice of the defendant Union Health Service. The defendant alleged immunity under Section 26 of the Voluntary Health Services Plans Act. The Circuit Court of Cook County judge denied defendant’s Section 2-619 motion on the grounds that a 1988 amendment to Section 26 is unconstitutional.

The denial of the motion to dismiss is an interlocutory ruling, and it was found not to be subject to review by the Supreme Court under Rule 302(a)(1).
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The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit of Chicago held that a prior acts exclusion under an insurance policy issued by a professional liability insurer to a medical-practice insurer excluded coverage. The exclusion was ruled legal only if the medical-malpractice insurer committed an actual wrongful act, not just if it was accused of committing such an act.

MedPro, the insured medical malpractice carrier in this case, was represented by Clyde & Co., LLP of Washington, D.C. The professional liability insurer was American International Specialty Lines Insurance Co. (AISLIC).

MedPro issued medical-malpractice coverage to Dr. Benny Phillips, subject to a $200,000 liability limit.
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In the wrongful death case for Lee Lindemann, filed on behalf of the Estate of Sue Ann Lindemann, the U.S. District Court ruled that estoppel blocked National Fire & Marine Insurance Co. from invoking a “declining balance” provision in its insurance policy. The insurance company asked for a reduction from its $1 million liability limit to $600,000 by subtracting the $400,000 National paid for the defense expenses during two years of litigation.

National’s policy covered Dr. Erick Falconer in this wrongful death case and another defendant, Western Healthcare. In May 2013, the answer that Falconer’s attorney submitted to “Interrogatory 9” said he was insured under a National policy that had a $1 million liability limit.

But when responding to her request for a copy of the insurance policy, Dr. Falconer’s attorneys reportedly took the shortcut of referring back to this interrogatory answer. This maneuver meant that the litigants didn’t see the policy provision that ordinarily would have reduced the liability limit by the amount of defense expenditures.
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Dawn Kali was 36 when she was diagnosed with Stage I breast cancer. She was being treated by Robert Young at pH Miracle Living, an inpatient treatment center.

Kali flew to San Diego, where she paid more than $2,000 per night at the pH Miracle Living ranch. She also paid $500 for each round of an intravenous infusion treatment that was later learned consisted of baking soda. She did not pursue other cancer treatment. Her condition deteriorated. At the present time, Kali has been diagnosed with Stage IV cancer with just a four-year life expectancy.

Kali sued Young, alleging negligence and fraud. She presented testimony from pH Miracle Living’s accountant that she had overheard Young promise patients he could cure their cancer, even though Young was not a medical doctor. From the reporting of this case, it is not clear whether Young represented to individuals at pH Miracle Living that he was in fact an oncologist, a doctor or in the medical profession at all.
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Ana Mejia, 35, was admitted to an undisclosed hospital to undergo a tubal ligation following the birth of her third child. The procedure was done by a doctor employed by the Public Health Service. Although she experienced postoperative bleeding and dizziness, she was discharged with a prescription for pain killers.

The next day, Mejia allegedly called her treating medical clinic, with the help of a friend, to report that she was experiencing high fever and significant pain. Her condition continued to deteriorate, and she was taken by ambulance to the hospital the next day.

Mejia went into septic shock, renal failure and other problems that required emergency surgery. Cultures from this surgery revealed Group A streptococcus and candida. Mejia was then taken to the ICU where she suffered cardiac arrest and several strokes.
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