Unknown-2Dwayne Kantorowski underwent surgery to treat a brain tumor. He was just 45 years old, but he later experienced stroke-like symptoms. He promptly went to a hospital emergency room where he underwent an EKG. Although the test showed abnormalities, the attending emergency physician did not order additional blood tests or cardiac enzyme tests and did not refer him for a cardiology consultation. That failure to refer was the claimed cause of his resulting death

Kantorowski was hospitalized for several days and then discharged. Just three days later however, he suffered a heart attack that left him in a vegetative state for 3 weeks before he died. He was survived by his parents.

His family filed suit against the emergency room physician and the primary care physician who treated Kantorowski during his hospitalization. It was alleged that the doctors chose not to arrange for a cardiology consultation in light of the abnormal EKG, which indicated he had suffered a heart attack. The lawsuit did claim lost income.

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UnknownThe family of Jill Prusak brought a medical malpractice lawsuit against a doctor and two hospitals. Prusak died in November 2013. The lawsuit brought by Sheri Lawler on behalf of the family of Jill Prusak was filed in April 2014 within the two-year statute of limitations for a wrongful-death case. The lawsuit contended that the medical malpractice occurred in November 2007 when a doctor “failed to order appropriate diagnostic testing,” which would have revealed that Prusak’s symptoms were caused by cancer.

Section 13-212(a) sets out a two-year statute of limitations for medical-malpractice claims and ends by declaring: “But in no event shall such action be brought more than 4 years after the date on which the act or omission or occurrence alleged in such action to have been the cause of such injury or death.”

The lawsuit for medical malpractice was filed in August 2011 within the two-year statute of limitations so the case would continue. Utilizing the relation-back statute (Section 2-616(b)), the Prusak family argued that the complaint saved the wrongful-death claim from the statute of repose.

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UnknownIn this case before the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure were examined closely with respect to a subpoenaed nonparty deposition. The court stated that nonparties will be protected by undue burden and that, in weighing requests to depose nonparties, courts will consider four factors:

  1. The person’s nonparty status;
  2. Relevance of discovery sought;
  3. Need for discovery; and
  4. Breadths of the request.

In this case, the plaintiff Prabhjot Uppal graduated as a physician from Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science in 2005.  He obtained a residency at Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill.

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Unknown-1Janice Bishop presented to the emergency department at Graham Hospital in Canton, Ill., with complaints of chest pain on July 19, 2010. The emergency room physician ordered an EKG, which demonstrated non-specific T-wave changes compared to a prior 2007 EKG.

Multiple nitroglycerine injections and one Lovenox injection were administered to Bishop in the ER. She was then admitted to a post-coronary care unit under the attention of the defendant physician Dr. Patrick Renick. Serial EKGs were then done.

Dr. Renick discharged Bishop the next morning, July 20, 2010, with orders for a stress test to be done as an outpatient.  The outpatient stress test was scheduled for July 23, 2010, but she subsequently canceled it due to insurance coverage issues.

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UnknownIn Illinois it is well-settled law that prohibits defendants and their lawyers from communicating with treating physicians without the consent of the patient. In this case, plaintiffs sued five pharmaceutical companies in federal court where it was claimed they were injured by testosterone-replacement products.

In this multidistrict litigation case, one of the defendants, AbbVie Inc. requested that the federal court trial judge bar attorneys on both sides from having pre-deposition contacts with treating physicians of plaintiffs.

In the opinion written by U.S. District Judge Mathew F. Kennelly, the court, following Illinois law, stated that either side’s counsel may interview a witness and prepare him or her for the deposition by previewing the questions that may be asked, reviewing relevant documents and so on. There is nothing at all improper about this.  Indeed, adequate witness preparation is a key of good trial (and deposition) preparation.  In short there is no prohibition of pre-deposition of pre-testimony contact between a lawyer and the ordinary fact witness.

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Unknown-2On Aug. 4, 2011, Jill Prusak filed a medical malpractice case within both the two-year statute of limitation and four-year statute of repose under Section 13-212(a). The lawsuit contained a two-count complaint against the defendants, University of Chicago Medical Center and other medical providers who have since been dismissed from the case. It was alleged that Dr. Rama Jager misdiagnosed Prusak’s macular pathology and that this misdiagnosis led to the defendants’ choosing to not recognize nervous system lymphoma.

The first count alleged negligence against the University of Chicago defendants and asserted that Dr. Jager was an agent or apparent agent of the University of Chicago defendants.  The second count of the complaint made the same allegations with respect to Advocate defendants and the Christ Hospital defendants.

Prusak died on Nov. 24, 2013 after the expiration of the four-year statute of repose. On March 11, 2014, the trial court granted Prusak’s daughter, Sheri Lawler, leave to file an amended complaint, substituting herself as party plaintiff and as the executor of Prusak’s estate.

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Unknown-1Angelica Heavner, 41, went to the hospital emergency room for treatment of jaw and head pain. A hospital employee placed an IV into Heavner’s metacarpal vein on her right hand. The insertion of the IV caused her to develop a blister at that site, plus burning and stinging pain.

The IV was not removed immediately. Heavner developed complications and was later diagnosed with having complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) of the right hand, which necessitated medication and a spinal cord stimulator. CRPS, or reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome, causes chronic pain in patients who have contracted it. The cause of CRPS is varied. In some cases, the cause of CRPS is the dysfunction in the central or peripheral nervous system.

Heavner filed a lawsuit against the hospital, alleging its employee negligently inserted the IV, which resulted in nerve contact and thus was the cause of the CRPS. The lawsuit also maintained that the defendant’s failure to promptly identify the problem and remove the IV led to the chronic pain syndrome. There was no claim for lost income.

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imagesGlenn Garofano, 63, underwent an ultrasound of his gallbladder, which revealed gallstones and a 4-cm mass on his liver. He then underwent a CT scan, which radiologist Dr. Clifford Barker reported as showing no evidence of a mass. Dr. Barker also suggested that Garofano consider an MRI. Thirteen months later, Garofano was hospitalized for Lyme disease and underwent testing, which led to a diagnosis of metastatic liver cancer that had spread to his heart.

Garofano died two months after the diagnosis and was survived by his wife and three adult children. His family filed a lawsuit against Dr. Barker alleging that he chose not to order the MRI or a liver biopsy in light of the previous test results. It was claimed that had adequate testing been done and a timely diagnosis been received, Garofano would have had a 42% chance of survival. The lawsuit does not claim lost income. Thus, the lawsuit was for the lost opportunity to save Garofano from his untimely death. The jury’s verdict was for $7 million.

The attorney representing the Garofano family was Paul A. O’Connor.

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Benjamin Serico was 58 years old when he underwent a colonoscopy done by a colorectal surgeon, Dr. Robert Rothberg. Dr. Rothberg informed Serico that the test did not reveal any signs of colon cancer.

Two years later, Serico was diagnosed with having metastatic colon cancer; despite a treatment plan, Serico later died of the cancer. He had been an assistant professor and was survived by his wife and two sons.

The Serico family sued Dr. Rothberg, claiming that his choosing not to remove a polyp during the colonoscopy procedure and then failing to properly perform the test, led to the late diagnosis of cancer. The jury’s verdict was $6 million in favor of the estate of Serico and his wife for the wrongful death and medical malpractice.

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imagesIn November 2008, Anil R. Shah, a medical doctor who practices facial surgery and otolaryngology, performed several outpatient plastic surgery procedures for Daniel Green in the doctor’s Schaumburg, Ill., office. The procedures did not require general anesthesia and were performed under local anesthetic in Dr. Shah’s outpatient office.

Although Green was not given a general anesthetic, Dr. Shah gave him both Valium and Phenergan, medications designed to sedate a patient as well as prevent nausea.

Dr. Shah testified at trial that Green was lucid and talking throughout the operation. Dr. Shah also said Green was aware and able to understand instructions.

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