Illinois Appellate Court Reverses Jury’s Verdict of Defendant in Medical Malpractice Case Over the Admission of Improper Trial Evidence

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.

The appeals panel agreed with the first argument that the jury should not have been allowed to hear testimony or evidence of Dr. Dein’s-caused bowel injury to a patient in 1989, which was not relevant to impeach or affirmatively elucidate his testimony concerning the 2010 standard of care. The appeals panel concluded that the admission of the improper evidence appeared to have affected the outcome of the trial because it was not cumulative of any properly admitted evidence and because in closing argument, defendants’ counsel used the improper evidence to severely attack Dr. Dein’s integrity and to conflate the issues to be decided by the jury.

Accordingly, the Illinois Appellate Court for the 2d District reversed the jury’s verdict and ordered a new trial.

Swift v. Schleicher, 2017 IL App (2d) 170218 (Dec. 29, 2017).

Kreisman Law Offices has been successfully handling medical negligence lawsuits, wrongful death cases, birth trauma injury cases and nursing home abuse cases for individuals, families and loved ones who have been injured, harmed or killed by the negligence of a medical provider for more than 40 years, in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Maywood, Melrose Park, Homewood, Hillside, Elmhurst, Rosemont, Chicago (Back of the Yards, Little Italy, Garfield Park, Lawndale, Pilsen, Little Italy, West Town, Ukrainian Village, Humboldt Park, Polish Village), Franklin Park and Villa Park, Ill.

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