Surgical Error Case Settles for $3 Million

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1 December 2012 Surgical Error Case Settles for $3 Million Steven M. Levin and Jordan S. Powell recently settled a Cook County medical malpractice lawsuit for $3 million. The settlement was reached between our client and a Chicago-area neurosurgeon. 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 Jeffrey E. Martin Lawyer since 1982 ASSOCIATES Michael F. Bonamarte IV Patricia L. Gifford Jordan S. Powell Margaret P. Battersby Black Marvet M. Sweis Ryan L. Nolte Cari F. Silverman Jaime A. Koziol Joseph D. Kern Greta M. Hafeman Lauren M. Garvey Matthew P. D'Avanzo On March 6, 2007, the neurosurgeon performed surgery on our client, then 78, to replace a pain pump that was previously inserted in her spine to deliver medication to manage her back pain. During the procedure, the Attorneys Jordan Powell and Steven Levin neurosurgeon nicked our client s Before her back surgery, our client was spinal cord with a catheter, causing irreparable damage. Our client became permanently para- independent, noted Jordan. Because of the surgeon s errors, she is now completely delyzed from the waist down. pendent on others, requiring ongoing medical Since the surgery, our client has learned to treatment and in-home care. adapt to life without the use of her lower Our client s paralysis also led to other health limbs. Our client and her family trusted the complications. After leaving the hospital, she surgeon to perform procedures necessary to relieve her back pain so that she could enjoy was then transferred to a nursing home to her time with her children and grandchildren, rehabilitate. There, she developed an infected pressure sore that required surgery and took said Steve. over four months to heal. Steve and Jordan Unfortunately, his efforts to repair her pain settled a separately filed suit against the nurspump caused far greater problems, and robbed ing home for $400,000. her of the ability to walk. Continued on page 5 CLIENT TELL EDITOR Jenna Hall CLIENT TELL COPY EDITOR Marci Kayne Representing clients who have suffered serious or catastrophic injuries. 325 North LaSalle Street, Suite 450 Chicago, Illinois Fax Toll-free

2 $920,000 Policy Limit Settlement in Nursing Home Lawsuit Patricia Gifford recently represented the son of a 54-year-old man who died as a result of negligence in a Cook County nursing home. In April 2008, our client was admitted to the defendant nursing home for ventilator management and rehabilitation after being involved in a car accident. Four days after our client was admitted, his blood pressure spiked significantly, a condition known as a hypertensive crisis. When a patient suffers a hypertensive crisis, healthcare providers must monitor the patient Attorney Patricia Gifford closely. Our client s hypertensive crisis began at 9:30 a.m. and continued throughout the day. His physician ordered nursing home employees to monitor him and call the physician frequently with updates. During the afternoon, our client s blood pressure remained elevated, but staff did not call his physician, nor did they hospitalize him. The director of nursing ordered her staff to check on our client every 15 minutes. According to the nursing home records, no one looked in on our client from 8:15 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. When an employee finally checked on him, he was found unresponsive with his feet hanging over his bed, as if he was trying to reach his call light for assistance. He was taken to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with cardiac arrest and irreversible brain damage from which he could not recover. Our client passed away five days later. The nursing staff should have followed the physician s orders and contacted him in the afternoon with an update on the resident s condition, noted Patricia. Given the length and severity of his hypertensive crisis, the standard of care required them to transfer him to the hospital that afternoon. Through the discovery process, we also learned that the facility was aware that our client could not reach his call light, yet they failed to address this problem, making it impossible for our client to call for help when he needed it most. Our client s son came to us for answers surrounding his father s death. In April 2010, Patricia filed a lawsuit in Cook County on behalf of the son, and the case settled in May for $919, Patricia settled the case with the nursing home for the $1 million insurance policy limit, but since the facility carried an eroding policy, our client s son received the remaining balance. Our client survived a terrible car accident, only to fall victim to nursing home negligence just days after his release from the hospital, said Patricia. Although we were able to help his son find some closure, nothing we could do and no amount of money could ever bring back his dad. $750,000 Recovered for Workplace Injury Victim On October 30, 2008, our client, then 28, was working as a receiving manager at a Home Depot store in Bartlett, IL. He and a co-worker were unloading a shipment from a semi-truck on the store s loading dock. Our client s co-worker drove a forklift into the back of the trailer to lift our client so he could reach items that shifted during transport. As they were unloading the shifted items, our client asked his co-worker to get the truck driver so he could show him how badly the shipment had been loaded. When the co-worker banged on the side of the truck to get the driver s attention, the truck driver began to pull his vehicle away from the dock. The forklift, located partly on the loading dock and partly in the truck s trailer, fell off the dock and catapulted our client into the trailer roof. His head struck the roof of the trailer and he fell to the ground, causing him to lose consciousness. As a result of this accident, our client suffered a closed head injury, as well injuries to his back, hands and shoulder, noted attorney Jeffrey E. Martin. His head injury caused him to suffer seizures and endure longterm cognitive problems, such as depression, fogginess, forgetfulness and zoning out. In May 2010, our client suffered bleeding in his brain, and in March 2011 he underwent brain surgery for aggravation of a vascular lesion which only two treating physicians linked to the 2008 accident. Jeff filed our client s case in July 2009 against the trucking company and truck driver. The suit alleged that the defendant truck driver improperly moved his tractortrailer away from the loading dock before the shipment was completely unloaded without warning or signaling anyone. He also failed to make sure that it was safe to move the truck before doing so. The defendant trucking company admitted that the driver acted improperly when he moved the truck away from the dock before it was unloaded. Our client s settlement was finalized this October for $750,000. The careless and Attorney Jeffrey Martin needless mistakes of the truck driver caused our client to suffer life-altering injuries from which he will never fully recover, said Jeff. He was injured at a young age and lost his job as a shipping manager because of his ongoing medical issues. It is very likely that he will never be able to maintain fulltime employment, so it was crucial given the facts and divergent medical testimony that we came to a fair and reasonable settlement agreement to fully compensate our client and his wife for the terrible harms caused. 2

3 $1.2 Million Settlement in Adult Day Care Fall Case John Perconti recently achieved a $1.2 million settlement for the surviving family of an 87-year-old Chicago Heights man who suffered a fatal brain injury in a fall at a Homewood adult day-care facility. C.D. Hibbler attended programs at Addus Evergreen Club Adult Day Center twice a week to socialize and engage in activities with other senior citizens. On July 15, 2010, C.D., who used a walker, exited the facility to board a bus that transported him to and from the facility. As he approached the bus, he fell, hitting his head on the pavement. He suffered a serious brain injury and died five days later. Our attorneys filed the family s case in March 2011, and reached a settlement with the defendants in June. I had a great experience working with John and the rest of the Levin & Perconti team, noted Traci. I was always made comfortable and they made themselves available to me at any and all times throughout this process. I was always kept abreast of what was happening with this lawsuit at every step and had faith in them because they knew what they were doing. This was a negligence case, and also a premises liability case, noted John. C.D. was known to be at risk for falls, and staff members were required to help him get on and off the bus. Further, his fall was caught on surveillance video, clearly showing that no one was assisting him at the time of his fall. The facility failed to supervise C.D. and allowed him to walk unassisted out the front door to the bus, said John. The lawsuit alleged that the curb ramp was improperly designed and too steep, violating all applicable codes, said John. The curb ramp was also inadequately marked to warn users of its dangerous slope. The company that owned and managed the property was responsible for maintaining the sidewalk and curb ramp near where the bus was parked. The property owners had a duty to repair, modify or eliminate any known hazard on the premises. However they failed to remove or modify the curb ramp until after C.D. s fall. After C.D. s untimely death, his daughter Traci Waugh contacted Levin & Perconti to seek justice for the loss of her father. My siblings Gerald, Anthony, Michael and I were very close with my dad, and to lose him in the manner that we did is truly devastating, said Traci. We decided to take legal action because we didn't want this act of negligence to happen to anyone else s loved one. Attorney John Perconti Traci and her siblings hope that sharing their father s story will help to protect other seniors from similar accidents. My word of advice to other families that have elderly loved ones involved in adult day-care programs is to do surprise visits to ensure that your loved one is being taken care of. She added, My dad was evaluated and the agency knew that he needed assistance with his mobility and shouldn't be walking around on his own. If they would have followed those directives, then we wouldn't have lost my dad so tragically due to their negligence, and so soon after losing our mother in C.D. Hibbler, Father's Day 2010 After we became adults, we spent a lot of time with our parents to give back to them in their golden years, since they did so much for us, said Traci. My dad had so much life in him and today we still miss his presence and company; his perseverance and love for and dedication to his family; and meeting up at the heart of it all, our family home for Sunday dinners, holidays and celebrations. We miss seeing his bright smile and face light up when stopping in to visit with him, and miss hearing him tell us his life stories and sharing our stories with him. I personally miss the irreplaceable feeling of being a daddy s girl and feeling the love that my dad had for me and I had for him. We get knots in our stomach each time we drive by the Addus facility, or when we see their vans. We can never get these things back, but we are thankful that we have wonderful memories and we did right by our parents, so that at the end of their lives, we would have no regrets. Although this lawsuit has been resolved, we still feel the loss of our father, concluded Traci. We can never get our dad back, but if his case helps even one family from losing their loved one by calling attention to this and other agencies careless actions, then it was worth it. C.D. with his wife and children 3

4 L&P Attorneys Honored at 2012 Jury Verdict Reporter Awards Steven M. Levin and Michael F. Bonamarte each received an award for Trial Lawyer Excellence at the 2012 Jury Verdict Reporter Awards ceremony. They were honored for a $2.9 million verdict they obtained in 2006 on behalf of the family of a 57-year-old woman who died as a result of nursing home negligence. This was a record reported verdict in a nursing home case in Illinois. The JVR awards ceremony was held on October 17 at the InterContinental Chicago. Other members of the firm in attendance included Jordan Powell, Marvet Sweis, Greta Hafeman and Lauren Garvey. Awards are presented annually by the Jury Verdict Reporter, a division of Law Bulletin Publishing Company. Mike Bonamarte, Steven Levin and Jury Verdict Reporter Editor John Kirkton Recent Settlements J.R. v. Metropolis Nursing and Rehab Center et al. $862,500 nursing home settlement for a 71-year-old resident who contracted MRSA at the facility. The infection caused our client to suffer further complications, including a second knee replacement surgery and an above-the-knee amputation. K.C. for M.C. v. Confidential Nursing Home $750,000 nursing home fall settlement for the family of an 89-year-old nursing home resident who fell and suffered a fractured femur. She subsequently developed post-operative complications including respiratory failure, sepsis and pneumonia, all of which contributed to her death. R.C. for P.C. v. Edward Hospital et al. $698,000 medical malpractice settlement against a hospital and ambulance company for the surviving family of an 81-year-old woman who died as a result of the hospital staff s failure to immediately transport her to a stroke center after she suffered a stroke. The defendant ambulance company took over 30 minutes to arrive and failed to utilize lights and sirens during transport to the receiving hospital. A.C. v. Anonymous. $382,000 automobile accident settlement for our client who suffered facial scarring when she was a passenger in a vehicle involved in a head-on collision. Recently Filed Cases P.B. for C.B. v. Rockford Memorial Hospital et al. (Medical malpractice) A pediatrician erroneously placed a catheter into our 12-yearold client s vein instead of her artery, causing an ischemic injury to her arm that the doctor failed to diagnose or treat. As a result, our client lost function in her arm and part of her hand had to be amputated. N.S. v. City of Chicago (Premises liability) Our client was walking along a sidewalk near the Magnificent Mile in Chicago when she tripped on rebar protruding dangerously out of the sidewalk. She fell and suffered a broken hip and a broken arm. C.E. for J.E. and J.E. v. Advance Home Health and J.F., RN (Home healthcare malpractice) The home health agency and nurse providing prenatal care to our client failed to assess our client s PICC line for signs of infection, and as a result, she developed an infection that went undiagnosed and untreated. This caused her to prematurely deliver twins, both of whom suffered birth injuries and health problems. V.M. for S.T. v. Capitol Care Center (Sangamon County nursing home neglect lawsuit) The defendant facility failed to monitor our 76-year-old client s blood glucose levels and failed to treat her when her blood sugar dropped to critically low levels. Our client died as a result of this insufficient care. 4

5 SURGICAL ERROR CASE Cont. from pg. 1 A fellow attorney recommended that our client s family contact Levin & Perconti because we have a strong record of success handling cases against hospitals and nursing homes. Jordan and Steve filed the lawsuit against the neurosurgeon in February 2008, and in early 2012, the case settled. We are fighting an epidemic of preventable medical errors in Illinois hospitals, Steve said. We hope that our client s settlements send a strong message to Illinois healthcare providers that these unnecessary medical mistakes will never go unnoticed or unpunished. The client s family noted that the Levin & Perconti team worked diligently and compassionately, and they were pleased with the settlement results. These settlements will allow their mother to receive uninterrupted home health support and ongoing medical treatment. Our mom can now live as comfortably as possible, considering her condition, added our client's daughter. Our client Sharing the Road with Motorcyclists Attorney Susan Novosad recently settled a motorcycle accident case for $500,000. Susan represented a man who, while riding his motorcycle on a suburban residential road, suffered arm and shoulder injuries after being hit by a small delivery van. According to Susan, In this case, the accident occurred because the driver of the other vehicle was not paying close enough attention, and as a result, failed to yield to our client on his motorcycle even though our client had the right of way. As a motorist, what can you do to avoid accidents with motorcyclists? The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration s website offers tips on how cars and motorcycles can coexist on the road, including: Do not share lanes with motorcyclists give them a full lane. Due to their small size, it is harder to judge how fast a motorcycle is approaching. Be aware of motorcycles as you turn or change lanes, specially when turning left in front of an oncoming motorcycle. Use proper signals to communicate your intentions to motorcyclists as well as other motorists. Motorcycles are small and can be hidden in blind spots. Always check your mirrors and blind spots before changing lanes. Do not trust their turn signals. Motorcycle turn signals do not automatically turn off like most cars, so proceed with caution and do not assume they are turning. Changes in road and weather conditions can be hazardous for motorcycles so be alert and increase your following distance in rainy, snowy or slick conditions. Attorney Susan Novosad Motorcycle accidents can be devastating because these vehicles are small and offer riders little protection, Susan noted. Therefore, it is crucial that motorcyclists operate with extreme caution when riding on Illinois roads, streets and highways. Motorcycles have the same rights as larger vehicles, and motorists have a duty to be aware of and share the road with motorcyclists. When both motorcyclists and motorists follow the rules of the road, it greatly decreases everyone s risk for serious injury. I hope that this case serves as a reminder to motorists to always be alert to your surroundings and aware of smaller vehicles on or around roadways. 5

6 325 North LaSalle Street, Suite 450 Chicago, Illinois Phone: Seeking justice for victims of injury and wrongful death since 1992 Levin & Perconti Attorney News Steve Levin and Mike Bonamarte contributed a chapter on personal injury and wrongful death actions under the Nursing Home Care Act to the 2012 Supplement of Advising Elderly Clients, published by the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education (IICLE ). On May 10, Steve Levin and Mike Bonamarte presented at the American Association for Justice s Nursing Home College: Depositions in Washington, DC. Margaret Battersby was a Dean s Program alumni panelist at Chicago-Kent College of Law on May 21. Jordan Powell spoke at the Chicago Bar Association s Probate Practice Committee meeting about Nursing Home Litigation on July 19. Levin & Perconti sponsored the Decalogue Society s 78th Annual Anniversary Dinner & Installation on June 27. Mike Bonamarte was elected to serve as secretary of the Justinian Society of Lawyers. Levin & Perconti sponsored the American Constitution Society s Annual Chicago Legal Legends Luncheon on July 11. Jeff Martin and Joe Kern represented the firm at the event. Steve Levin and John Perconti were recently selected by their peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America 2013 in the field of Personal Injury Litigation Plaintiffs. On September 9, attorneys Patricia Gifford, Greta Hafeman, Jaime Koziol and Jordan Powell participated in the 2012 Walk to End Alzheimer s in Chicago. The Levin & Perconti team raised $4,994 in donations for Alzheimer s disease research. On September 12, Margaret Battersby was a guest lecturer at a session of Professor Steven Harris s remedies class at ChicagoKent College of Law, speaking on the topic of personal injury damages. Jordan Powell spoke to the Illinois Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys on September 14 about Prosecuting Nursing Home Cases. Marvet Sweis gave introductions at the Arab American Bar Association Installation Dinner on October 10. Mike Bonamarte and Ryan Nolte were also in attendance. Jordan Powell was named as one of the Law Bulletin Publishing Company s 40 Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. 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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