$4 MILLION MEDICAL MALPRACTICE SETTLEMENT WITH CHICAGO HOSPITAL

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1 AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2014 $4 MILLION MEDICAL MALPRACTICE SETTLEMENT WITH CHICAGO HOSPITAL LEVIN & PERCONTI: Attorneys seeking justice for victims of injury and wrongful death since PARTNERS Steven M. Levin Co-founder in 1992, lawyer since 1976 John J. Perconti Co-founder in 1992, lawyer since 1982 Susan L. Novosad Lawyer since 1986 Michael F. Bonamarte IV Lawyer since 2005 ASSOCIATES Jordan S. Powell Margaret P. Battersby Black Marvet M. Sweis Cari F. Silverman Jaime A. Koziol Matthew P. D Avanzo Ashley H. Herschberger Colleen M. Mixan Erin M. Mayer David J. Thompson Andrew J. Thut Eva C. Sosnowska Julie A. Zavelovich Daniel A. Goldfaden Mackenzie J. Mahony REPRESENTING CLIENTS WHO HAVE SUFFERED SERIOUS OR CATASTROPHIC INJURIES John Perconti achieved justice for the family of a young woman who died as a result of a brain injury suffered at the University of Chicago Medical Center in Dominique Salter suffered a brain stem herniation due to a significant delay in the treatment of her malfunctioning brain shunt and died one year later. Dominique s family reached a $4 million settlement with the hospital in When Dominique was born she was diagnosed with hydrocephalus, a condition where fluid accumulates around the brain. Doctors implanted a shunt in her brain to drain this fluid into her abdomen, which needed to be replaced every few years as she grew. Thanks to her shunt, Dominique led a normal life and rarely had to worry about her medical condition. She and her family were very familiar with the specifics of her condition and were able to identify symptoms that arose when her shunt needed to be replaced. In November 2007, Dominique suffered a terrible headache much like others she had when her brain shunt needed to be replaced. She was brought to the University of Chicago Medical Center emergency department where her treating neurosurgeon was on staff. Emergency department staff gave her pain medicine and ordered her to go home but come back if her symptoms worsened. Dominique s headache did worsen and she returned to the hospital, where a spinal tap revealed a high level of pressure on her brain, most likely due to a malfunctioning shunt. Despite these findings and based upon the availability of the neurosurgeon, the staff scheduled surgery for four days later and never admitted her to the intensive care unit where should could have been closely monitored. Instead, Dominique was boarded in the hospital s emergency department for 52 hours and was never seen by her neurosurgeon. The neurosurgical team did not consider placing a drain to measure the pressures and take off fluid to reduce the elevated pressures. A day before she was to undergo shunt replacement surgery, Dominique s intracranial pressure became so great from the buildup of fluid that she suffered a brain herniation. This means that her brain was forced through the natural opening at the base of her skull called the foramen magnum. She underwent emergency surgery but surgeons could not reverse the brain damage she suffered from the herniation. In the months following this incident, Dominique could not move or communicate and remained in a coma. She never went home and lived her final months in longterm care. In November 2008, Dominique died as a result of the brain damage she suffered while she waited for a shunt replacement. Levin & Perconti filed the medical malpractice lawsuit on behalf of Dominique s surviving family in late The settlement provided John Perconti compensation for the personal injuries suffered by Dominique during her lifetime and for her wrongful death. Continued on Page North LaSalle Street, Suite 450 Chicago, Illinois FAX Toll-free

2 $1 MILLION SETTLEMENT FOR 90-YEAR-OLD IN HIP FRACTURE CASE Steve Levin and Jaime Koziol recently obtained a $1 million settlement in a nursing home hip fracture lawsuit. Our client, now 90, was admitted to a North Shore nursing home in She required help from staff to move about and was noted as being at risk for falling. From August to November 2010, our client fell six times. On her last fall, she broke her left hip and had to undergo a partial hip replacement surgery. Following that surgery, she was in a great deal of pain and became weak and immobile. She never recovered from her fall injuries and has since undergone additional surgeries and developed numerous pressure sores. Our attorneys filed a lawsuit on behalf of our client in Our investigation found that two months prior to her final fall, her physician Steven Levin ordered the staff to ensure she used a wheelchair for ambulating; however, deposition testimony revealed that that order was not implemented or carried out by nursing home staff. The case settled for the entire nursing home insurance policy limit of $1 million in November Hip fractures are devastating injuries to older people because they cause the individual to lose function, independence and the quality of life they had prior to the fall, said Levin. Studies have shown that one in five people will die within a year of their injury, and many who lived independently before their fall will require long-term care. Older people who are recovering from hip fracture injuries and surgeries are immobile, and this increases their risk for pneumonia, pressure sores and debility. It is no secret that there are high mortality rates among older people who suffer hip fractures, Levin added. That is why it is crucial for long-term care facilities to prevent these injuries from happening in the first place. Unfortunately, we have represented hundreds of clients who have suffered hip fractures in nursing homes. In most of these cases, we find that the nursing homes knew our clients were at risk for falling, but failed to provide the proper supervision or assistance to prevent Jaime Koziol our clients from falling. As with many issues in nursing homes, many of these failures stem from nursing homes being understaffed and unable to provide the care and assistance their residents need and deserve. Prior to her fall, our client was in good condition. However, due to nursing staff negligence, she suffered a serious injury that has caused her pain and immobility for over three years. Had the staff followed our client s physician s orders, she may have been able to enjoy a pain-free life. n $1.035 MILLION NURSING HOME MEDICATION ERROR SETTLEMENT Steve Levin, Margaret Battersby Black and Jaime Koziol recently recovered a $1.035 million settlement with a nursing home and physicians on behalf of the family of a former resident who died from internal bleeding less than a week after moving into the facility. Our client s mother suffered from blood clots, and nursing home staff was responsible for administering blood-thinning medication to her, as ordered by her physicians. Her physicians also ordered frequent laboratory tests to closely monitor her blood viscosity levels to ensure this medication was working properly. During her five-day stay, staff at the nursing home skipped doses of Margaret Battersby Black our client s mother s blood-thinning medication and did not properly document when they did give it to 2 her. Staff also failed to contact her physicians when lab tests revealed that her blood was dangerously thin. Further, once her physicians received her lab reports, they did not respond to these changes right away. As a result of these failures and lack of care, our client s mother suffered internal bleeding that contributed to her death. When a family chooses a nursing home for a loved one, they trust that the staff will provide adequate care to protect their safety and well-being, said Levin. However, all too often our firm receives calls from families whose loved ones suffered serious injuries or even death because someone in a nursing home did not give them the right medication, or gave them the correct medication in the wrong doses. Deaths and injuries caused by medication errors are 100% preventable, and that is what makes these stories so heartbreaking. All the staff needed to do was follow the physicians instructions for our clients mother, added Black. Had they done so, there is a very good chance that our clients would not have lost their mother so soon and in such a tragic and painful way. They took action to educate other families about the potential dangers of medication errors in long-term care facilities. n

3 L&P PROMOTES MICHAEL BONAMARTE TO PARTNER Levin & Perconti is proud to announce the promotion of associate attorney Michael F. Bonamarte IV to partner. Michael is the youngest attorney in the firm s history to be made partner. Mike has worked for our firm since 2005 and is truly a great example of an attorney whose career is on the rise, said founding partner Steve Levin. It is rare to find a young attorney with the abilities and depth of experience that Mike possesses. He began his career with Levin & Perconti as a law clerk, and even then displayed the talent and drive needed to become a successful plaintiff s attorney. Mike possesses advanced trial preparation and trial advocacy skills that make him an integral part of our litigation team, added founding partner John Perconti. There is no aspect of the trial process that Mike cannot confidently handle, and his Michael Bonamarte IV skills and knowledge allow him to consistently achieve superior results for his clients in all types of nursing home abuse and neglect, medical malpractice, wrongful death and personal injury cases. Bonamarte has a proven record of success recovering noteworthy verdicts and settlements for clients, including a $4.75 million medical malpractice settlement, a $2.325 million settlement of a pressure ulcer case against a Chicago assisted-living facility, a $1.5 million construction accident settlement and most recently a $1.4 million settlement in a nursing home pressure ulcer lawsuit. In his first jury trial, Bonamarte and Levin achieved a $2.9 million verdict for the family of a deceased 57-year-old nursing home resident who suffocated due to the home s negligent care of her tracheostomy tube. This was a record verdict for a Cook County nursing home case. In 2012, Bonamarte received a Trial Lawyer Excellence Award from the Jury Verdict Reporter for his work on the case. In another record-setting case, he achieved a $700,000 settlement, which was the largest ever in a case against a Coles County, Ill., nursing home. In recognition of his outstanding representation of injured clients, Bonamarte was named to the Law Bulletin Publishing Company s 40 Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch list in He has also been named to Illinois Super Lawyers Rising Stars every year since Bonamarte is an active member of the Justinian Society of Lawyers and currently serves as the organization s Third Vice President. He was recently appointed as parliamentarian of the American Association for Justice s Nursing Home Litigation Group. He is also a member of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, the Chicago Bar Association and the Illinois State Bar Association. n $1.5 MILLION SETTLEMENT FOR INJURED WORKER In September 2006, our client, then 33, was working at a Glencoe, Ill. home construction site. He worked for a temporary labor service and was asked to go to the Glencoe construction site to do cleanup work. On his first day, our client was sweeping debris on the second floor of the house and with the help of another temporary worker moved a piece of plywood so they could sweep around and underneath it. Unbeknownst to our client or his fellow worker, the plywood was covering a chimney stack opening and as he took a step forward to move the plywood, he fell through the opening to the home s ground floor. Our client sustained severe injuries in the fall, including ankle, pelvis and hip fractures that all required surgery. Following his surgeries, our client was unable to return to manual-labor work and needed a cane to walk. As a result of his mobility-limiting injuries, ongoing pain and inability to work, he also suffered from depression and difficulty sleeping for several years following his accident. Our lawyers filed a lawsuit on behalf of our client in General contractors and contractors have a duty to protect the safety and well-being of all individuals who come to the job site, said Michael Bonamarte, who settled with the defendant construction company and contractors. Our investigation revealed that the chimney hole was neither affixed nor marked, thereby creating a dangerous working environment for our client. The contractors violated clearly defined OSHA standards. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 was created 3 to ensure that contractors provide safe working environments to individuals at the job site, free from recognized hazards. Our lawsuit alleged that the defendants violated OSHA laws by failing to affix the plywood or clearly mark the hole through which our client fell. Our client suffered and will continue to suffer as a result of the carelessness of the contractors, Bonamarte added. Although we could not reverse these mistakes, this settlement will enable him to get training so that he can seek employment in an area that does not require physical labor. n

4 Continued from Page 1 Prior to this incident, Dominique was leading the life of an average, happy 21-year-old. She attended college and dreamed of becoming an attorney. In her free time she loved spending time with her friends and family. However, all of her dreams and aspirations were cut short as a result of the negligence committed by the hospital staff. Dominique s physicians had more than enough time to diagnosis and address her signs of a malfunctioning shunt, yet they failed to act in a timely manner despite her well-known history of shunt malfunctions, said Perconti. The simple placement of a pressure monitor and drain would have allowed the staff to measure her pressure and take fluid off to reduce the pressure until the surgery could have been performed. Dominique s case highlights the issue of emergency room boarding, which has become an all-too-common practice in hospitals throughout the country, added Perconti. When hospitals do not have the beds available to admit patients to an inpatient unit, they choose to board admitted patients in the emergency department. However, most emergency departments are not equipped, and staff is not properly trained, to provide the level of care and monitoring that intensive care patients require. Emergency department boarding of admitted patients can lead to a breakdown in care, as seen in Dominique s case. Had she been under the care of staff in the neurological intensive care unit, staff would have recognized her neurological deterioration and performed surgery sooner, which would have prevented her irreversible brain damage and death. n RECENT SETTLEMENTS H.C. for L.R. v. Our Lady of the Resurrection Medical Center et al. $2 million medical malpractice settlement for the family of an insulin-dependent 33-year-old woman who died after falling into a diabetic coma following a routine medical procedure at the defendant hospital. The lawsuit alleged that a hospitalist failed to consider our client s risk for low blood sugar because she was on a long-acting form of insulin but was not eating by mouth. As a result, our client s blood sugar levels dropped and this drop caused her to fall into a coma. S.M. v. Adventist Glen Oaks Hospital et al. $1.75 million medical malpractice settlement for a 48-year-old woman who suffered a stroke following a cardiac catheterization procedure. Her cardiologist failed to recognize that she was experiencing signs and symptoms of a stroke as well as significant neurological deficits. The cardiologist also failed to order the appropriate tests after our client exhibited signs and symptoms of a stroke. As a result, her stroke went untreated and resulted in her suffering severe and permanent vision loss. intervention. The suit alleged that the nursing staff failed to provide our client with the appropriate interventions to prevent him from developing pressure sores and then failed to identify or properly treat his pressure sore. S.I. for T.B. v. Exceptional Health Partners, Dr. Rodney Alford et al. $1 million medical malpractice settlement for the family of a young child who died as a result of pneumonia and respiratory distress. The suit alleged that the defendants did not properly screen the child for sickle cell anemia and failed to diagnose or treat him for the disease. As a result of these failures, he was inadequately protected from pneumonia and died after developing a lung infection. n J.J. v. Confidential Nursing Home $1.3 million nursing home negligence settlement on behalf of a 51-year-old man who was admitted to the defendant nursing home for rehabilitation after developing paralysis following a motorcycle accident. During his stay he developed an infected pressure sore on his sacrum that required surgical 4

5 $2.4 MILLION PEDESTRIAN ACCIDENT VERDICT AGAINST CITY OF CHICAGO Susan Novosad and Jordan Powell recovered a $2.4 million jury verdict for a 29-year-old man who was seriously injured when a Chicago Streets and Sanitation worker s vehicle struck him as he stood on a Gold Coast sidewalk in Stephen Dewart, a former Chicago resident, was helping to promote his wife s business when city employee Dwight Washington drove his city-owned vehicle onto the sidewalk, hitting Dewart and three others. Dewart suffered spinal and leg fractures, requiring three surgeries and extensive rehabilitation. Police found an open bottle of brandy in Washington s truck and he tested over the legal blood alcohol limit. He later pled guilty to driving under the influence. Novosad and Powell filed Dewart s suit in June The lawsuit named Washington as a defendant. The lawsuit also named the City of Chicago, alleging that it was responsible for Washington s actions because he was an employee. The trial lasted five days. Before trial, Susan Novosad Washington and the city admitted fault for Dewart s injuries. As a result of this admission of liability, the presiding judge ruled that Washington s negligent conduct could not be presented to the jury and the case was to be tried on damages alone. During trial, the jury heard testimony from Dewart and his treating physicians. We presented the jury with information on Dewart s injuries, along with the physical, emotional and financial impact of the defendant s negligence, Novosad noted. The jury was given the task of deciding how Stephen should be compensated for his [now] lifelong disabilities. Following closing arguments, the jury deliberated for less than two hours before returning a $2.4 million verdict in Dewart s favor. Prior to trial, the highest offer from the defense was $500,000, Powell said. We were happy that the jurors understood the significant impact of this accident on Dewart s life and compensated him accordingly. Dewart currently attends graduate school in Indiana and is working to rebuild his life following the accident. I am grateful the jury understood the pain that my family and I have gone through Jordan Powell these past few years and although this compensation will never erase what happened, it will help ensure financial stability for me and my family, Dewart said. As we come to closure in this very difficult chapter, I remain grateful to Susan and Jordan for the patient and steadfast representation they provided. n $900,000 SETTLEMENT IN NURSING HOME FALL/BRAIN INJURY LAWSUIT John Perconti recently settled a nursing home fall lawsuit for $900,000 on behalf of an 80-year-old man who suffered a serious head injury while under the care of the defendant facility. Our client, then 74, moved into the Chicago-area facility in He had a history of prior falls and was at an increased risk for them because he was taking a medication that caused movement disorders. Staff members were required to supervise our client and assist him when walking. On several occasions, nursing home staff found our client trying to remove the body alarm that was provided to him as a safety precaution. Several times he removed his alarm, and on one of these occasions staff found him on the floor next to his bed. Despite these events, the nursing home staff did not make any changes to his care plan to address these behaviors, and several weeks after moving into the facility, our client fell in his room and suffered a brain injury. This brain injury caused his condition to deteriorate, and he has required ongoing medical care and treatment since his fall six years ago. A majority of older nursing home residents are at risk for falls due to fragile medical conditions, muscle weakness, poor eyesight and medication side effects, noted Perconti. Nursing homes understand this and are required to identify these risks at admission and create a plan to prevent residents from falling. I often hear nursing homes argue that resident falls are unavoidable and just a part of aging. However, in order for a nursing home to prove unavoidability, they must show that a care plan was created and consistently implemented and that staff frequently reassessed and modified the care plan 5 as needed. When a nursing home fails to follow this model and a resident is seriously injured, families can and should take action to hold the home liable. Perconti filed a lawsuit for our client in The suit alleged that the nursing home failed to appropriately develop, implement and revise a care plan to address our client s risk for falling and failed to make sure he received appropriate supervision and assistive devices to prevent these falls. We settled the case with the nursing home for their $1 million insurance policy limit, said Perconti. However, since it was an eroding policy, our client received the remaining balance of $900,000. n

6 325 North LaSalle Street, Suite 450 Chicago, Illinois Phone: SEEKING JUSTICE FOR VICTIMS OF INJURY AND WRONGFUL DEATH SINCE L&P ATTORNEY NEWS Attorneys Marvet Sweis and Cari Silverman discussed Enforcing Elder Rights Through Private Civil Litigation: An Ethical Responsibility at the 2013 Adult Protection and Advocacy Conference in Oak Brook, Ill. Mike Bonamarte spoke about nursing home litigation at the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association s Update and Review Seminar. Levin & Perconti was named a Tier 1 firm in Chicago for Personal Injury Litigation Plaintiffs by U.S. News and Best Lawyers Best Law Firms in Steve Levin, John Perconti and Susan Novosad were chosen for inclusion on the 2014 Illinois Super Lawyers list. Margaret Battersby Black, Michael Bonamarte, Jordan Powell, Cari Silverman and Marvet Sweis were selected to the 2014 Illinois Super Lawyers Rising Stars list. Steve Levin and Cari Silverman authored an article titled Proving Pain in Nursing Home Cases for the American Association for Justice s Trial magazine. Jordan Powell spoke on the topic of Getting the Judge to Admit Key Evidence at the American Association for Justice s Litigating Nursing Home Cases Seminar in Las Vegas. Michael Bonamarte presented at the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association s 49th Annual Institute on Nursing Home Litigation How to Take Key Depositions in a Nursing Home Case. Margaret Battersby Black spoke at a panel discussion sponsored by the Chicago Bar Association Probate Practice Committee on Personal Injury Settlements. Attorney Marvet Sweis was invited by the Honorary Consul General of Jordan in Chicago to welcome the Jordanian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs to Chicago and serve on the planning committee for Jordan s Second National Conference in Michael Bonamarte spoke about Nursing Home Neglect, Medical Malpractice and Personal Injury Lawsuits at the LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens) of Lake County Legal & Insurance Workshop in Waukegan, Ill. Marvet Sweis and Colleen Mixan represented the firm at the 2014 Mother McAuley Career Day event. Both Sweis and Mixan are alumnae of Mother McAuley High School in Chicago. Levin & Perconti was a corporate partner for the Jewish United Fund s 2014 Lawyers Division Dinner. ADVERTISING MATERIAL DISCLAIMER: This newsletter and any information contained herein are intended for advertising and informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice

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