Case Highlights

Vlachos, a minor v. Northwestern Memorial Hospital, et. al.

$14,000,000

The plaintiff mother was admitted to Prentice Women’s Hospital for labor and delivery at forty weeks after a routine, uncomplicated pregnancy. When the mother began pushing during the second stage of her labor, the external fetal monitor began capturing the heart rate of the mother instead of the baby.This phenomenon is common during pushing efforts and the nurse and obstetrician can confuse the mother’s heart rate pattern for the baby’s and falsely believe the baby is doing well. The Plaintiff’s attorney Mr. Lloyd proved that the standard of care is to compare the maternal pulse rate to the heart rate seen on the monitor screen in between contractions. The obstetrician and nurse failed to do so, and the baby was born in severe distress. Despite resuscitation, the baby experienced cerebral palsy and related brain damage.

Thomas, a minor v. Antony, MD

Verdict : $9,697,000
Offer :  $200,00

The plaintiff’s mother was a member of Chicago HMO, when she became pregnant with Anthony. During the pregnancy, the mother developed gestational diabetes, a common complication, which went untreated. When plaintiff’s mother was admitted to the hospital, Anthony was in fetal distress and, despite emergency cesarean section, he was born brain damaged.

Plaintiff’s counsel successfully argued that the defendant primary care physician was required to review and approve the defendant obstetrician’s care plan under the HMO guidelines. Despite receiving copies of abnormally elevated blood sugar test results without fetal monitoring or insulin treatment, the defendant primary care physician did not discuss the patient’s condition with the defendant obstetrician.

This case represents the first Illinois jury verdict to hold the primary care physician responsible for the overall care of an obstetrical patient despite a referral.

Estate of Moore v. Wrona, MD and St. Joseph’s Medical Center

$2,475,000
This maternal death case arose as a result of a necrotizing fasciitis infection to the mother’s episiotomy and laceration wound which was contracted at the time of delivery.

The defendant obstetrician repaired the wound and ordered a narcotic medication for pain in Melinda’s wound. Despite continued pain and an increased white blood cell count two days after delivery, the obstetrician discharged the mother home. Mother was re-admitted to the hospital four days later at the age of 20 and later died leaving the minor plaintiff as her sole surviving heir.

Kurt Lloyd retained an obstetrical expert with a specialty in maternal infections who testified to the negligence of the defendants and demonstrated that, even though the death rate for this infection was 70%, Melinda should have survived with timely, appropriate treatment.

Wright v. Anderson, MD, et. al.

$6,000,000 (policy limits)
The brain damaged newborn minor plaintiff alleged that her mother was a patient of an obstetrical group for her pregnancy. Three days after her due date, the plaintiff’s mother thought she had experienced decreased fetal movement and went to the hospital. The mother underwent a non-stress test (NST), which measures fetal heart rate activity while not in labor. The NST demonstrated a one-minute fetal heart rate deceleration which indicated that the plaintiff likely had low amniotic fluid causing umbilical cord vulnerability. The next day, the plaintiff’s mother then underwent a fetal ultrasound which did not assess her amniotic fluid volume but rather only fetal size. A few days later the plaintiff was born in fetal distress and suffered irreversible brain damage.

The minor plaintiff’s attorney filed suit alleging that her treating obstetricians failed to recognize the NST result as abnormal and either promptly deliver her or properly assess her amniotic fluid volume which would have indicated prompt delivery.

Estate of Morris v. University of Chicago Hospitals    $8,000,000

The Decedent had surgery to remove an abdominal abscess. After surgery, she developed swelling in both legs. The hospital’s surgeons ordered a PRG, a non-invasive vascular test, which is used to rule out blood clots in the legs as a cause of the swelling. The PRG was interpreted and reported as negative and the surgeons then assumed her swelling was caused by excess “third spacing” fluid. The next day, Valerie was found in cardiac arrest on the floor of her room. Despite resuscitation, Valerie suffered brain damage and lived in a vegetative state for the next nine years before she died.

Three years after her death, plaintiff’s counsel was asked to investigate the cause of Valerie’s arrest. The PRG test had become obsolete. After research, Lloyd Law Group found and retained the vascular surgeon who had invented the PRG test who then testified that it had been misinterpreted as negative. Instead, the test demonstrated blood clot in Valerie’s pelvic veins, near the site of her original surgery, which had dislodged and flowed to her heart causing cardiac arrest before the clot was ejected into her lung.

Crane v. Luken, MD     $2,000,000

The Plaintiff had a benign meningioma in the brain which a neurosurgeon attempted to remove. During surgery, the surgeon over manipulated the tumor causing the plaintiff to suffer a stroke and leaving him partially hemiplegic. This case was turned down by seven other Plaintiff’s lawyers.

Tsakonas v. Lakeshore Surgery Center and Stamelos, MD

$1,500,000
(declining policy balance)
The Plaintiff, age 44, underwent laser spine surgery to her lumbar spine for back and right leg pain which caused a neuropathic pain syndrome. The Plaintiff alleged that Defendant Lakeshore Surgery Center negligently granted privileges to an orthopedic surgeon to perform minimally invasive laser spine disc decompression surgery at an Ambulatory Surgery Center when the surgeon did not hold hospital equivalent privileges or current training and credentialing for the laser device

Ross v. Lee, MD (Ottawa, IL)

Verdict: $837,000                 Offer: $0
The plaintiff, age 61, and a part-time artist, underwent endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS procedure) for chronic sinus infections and headaches during which the surgeon penetrated the orbit of the eye from the maxillary sinus causing double vision. No medical expenses damages were presented. Highest verdict in Illinois for negligent FESS procedure case.

Nancy Sea v. Undisclosed Medical Clinic and Physician      $4,200,000

The plaintiff who was a forty-one-year-old elementary schoolteacher saw an internist for a sudden headache and dizziness which she had experienced that day while shoveling snow. The defendant internist assumed that she had the flu and sent her home on bed rest and fluids. Five days later, the plaintiff began to slur her speech and drop things that she held in her right hand.

She was admitted to the hospital and found to have a ruptured cerebral aneurysm, which had likely burst while shoveling snow. After surgery, she experienced a vasospasm causing a stroke. As a result of the delay in her diagnosis, the plaintiff has partial right-sided paralysis and inability to speak.

This case represents the largest Illinois settlement for the delay in diagnosis of a ruptured cerebral aneurysm. The parties agreed to a nondisclosure of the identities of the defendants as a term of the settlement.

Estate of Greenblatt v. Poor, MD

Verdict: $1,195,000
Offer: $500,000
This was a radiology negligence case causing a 16-month delay in diagnosis of lung cancer and represents one of the few jury verdicts recorded on behalf of a plaintiff. This verdict is also noteworthy for being one of the first in Illinois to award in excess of one million dollars for the wrongful death of a widowed woman over the age of sixty-five.

As plaintiff’s counsel, Mr. Lloyd successfully retained one of the world’s leading lung cancer surgeons, who testified that a person with a malignant lung tumor less than 3.0 cm in size has a seventy percent chance of survival with timely diagnosis and treatment.

Estate of Urbanski v. Lerner, MD                    $1,500,000

The plaintiff sued for the wrongful death of his wife Patricia, a fifty-three-year-old waitress, alleging that she died from a delay in diagnosis of breast cancer, because the defendant internist failed to recommend routine annual screening mammograms to her after her fiftieth birthday. The plaintiff argued that a routine screening mammogram would have likely detected her asymptomatic breast cancer two years earlier when it was 95% curable with treatment.

Estate of Barksdale v. Horowitz, DDS        $1,000,000 (policy limit)

The plaintiff’s mother filed a wrongful death case against an oral surgeon for the loss of her twenty-year-old daughter who died from a cardio-respiratory arrest after extraction of a wisdom tooth under anesthesia. The plaintiff alleged that the oral surgeon terminated recovery room monitoring before the patient had sufficiently awakened after conscious sedation.

This case has resulted in more vigilant monitoring of anesthesia patients in dental offices.

General Negligence Cases

Eastwood v. American International Group        $5,000,000

The plaintiff a single, forty-year-old health care consultant was a backseat passenger in automobile involved in head-on collision. She sustained a C-2 through C-4 neck fractures requiring a fusion and a mild closed head injury. The plaintiff claimed that the head injury caused her to be unable to perform complex tasks in the management of her health care staff. Plaintiff claimed that neck fracture also would require several future spine surgeries.

Herbert, etc. v. Land Truck, Inc.            $1,700,000

The Plaintiff who was a front seat passenger in a Ford Box Truck suffered serious hip and knee injuries when his vehicle was rear-ended while stopped in a construction zone by the driver of a semi-tractor and attached trailer.

Baries v. CNA Insurance Co.       $1,250,000

A family brought an underinsured motorist claim against CNA Insurance for the wrongful death of their fourteen-year-old daughter who had been a passenger in a one-auto crash. Their daughter was a freshman in high school without any income. The death occurred shortly after the Illinois General Assembly had passed into law in l996 a new wrongful death limit of $500,000 for non-economic damage awards.

This is the only reported case to settle in excess of the limit before the Illinois Supreme Court struck down the limit as unconstitutional.

Hallsten v. City of Chicago, et. al.       $4,350,000

The plaintiff, a third-year law student who was riding his bicycle to school, attempted to cross Dearborn Street from Delaware Street on the corner where the Park Newberry High Rise building was being constructed. While stopped inside a construction sidewalk canopy within the Dearborn street crosswalk, the plaintiff looked for oncoming traffic and thought it was clear. As he entered into the moving lane, he was struck by an oncoming taxicab, ejecting him from his bicycle and rendering him a wheelchair bound, paraplegic.

The plaintiff alleged that the placement of the construction canopy created a blind spot for users of the crosswalk. Using traffic-engineering standards and computer-simulated models of the intersection, the plaintiff’s counsel demonstrated that the canopy interfered with the minimum site line distance for either a pedestrian to see and react to an oncoming vehicle or a driver to see an oncoming vehicle and react in a reasonable stopping time to an emerging pedestrian.

Problem Liability Case

Estate of Taylor v. Chrysler Motor Co.      $4,500,000

A sixty-year-old woman who was survived by two adult children was one of twelve passengers on a Dodge Model B3500 Wag “cargo van.” The vehicle traveling southbound on I 55 rolled over and crashed in a snow storm killing all passengers and the driver. The plaintiff’s estate alleged that the vehicle when near capacity became unstable as a result of a high center of gravity and caused the vehicle to “yaw.”

The plaintiff’s counsel using reconstruction engineers and design engineers was able to show that the “yaw” pattern had occurred immediately before the crash.

The Taylor estate obtained the largest individual settlement of all plaintiffs.

Morgan v. International Harvester Co., nka Navistar         Confidential

The plaintiff’s mother was mowing the lawn with an International Harvester “Cadet” 85 Special, a rear-engine riding lawn mower which was manufactured in l975. After the mower became stuck along the fence, the mother got off her seat without disengaging the manual blade control lever and attempted to move the machine. The plaintiff, a two-year-old boy who had been inside the screened porch, unexpectedly opened the door and wondered into the lawn in front of the mower at the same moment that the mower became dislodged. The mower traveled a few feet before knocking the toddler to the ground and mutilating his left foot and ankle.

The plaintiff alleged that the mower product should have been equipped with a selective “Deadman” safety seat, which causes the engine to automatically kill if the operator leaves the seat without remembering to disengage the manual blade lever. The plaintiff’s counsel found industry research that showed that the primary injury to bystanders and riding mower operators was blade contact while the operator was off the seat. The plaintiff’s counsel deposed the chief engineers from two industry competitors who testified that a Deadman safety device design was available and used by three competitors in industry. The plaintiff’s counsel found three facsimiles of Defendant’s mower product and had one re-engineered and built with a Deadman safety seat device that eliminated the danger.

This case was the largest settlement from hundreds of cases involving power riding lawn mower accidents and lack of Deadman safety seat switches and is now an industry safety standard.

Robertson v. Straight Line Water Sports, et. Al.         $1,100,000

The defendant Straight Line Water Sports began marketing a new water ski rope device called the “Woggle,” which was manufactured in Hong Kong by an injection mold plastic process. The woggle was intended as a quick release device to connect and disconnect tow ropes to water ski handles and inner tubes. The plaintiff, a sixteen-year-old woman, was being towed behind her father’s boat on an inner tube, when the woggle device shattered causing the tow rope to snap back and strike the plaintiff in her eye. The blunt trauma blinded the plaintiff in one eye.

The woggle device which broke sank to the bottom of the Illinois River. The plaintiff alleged that the woggle device had a propensity to fracture under load based on a design defect in the ejection mold system. Using a plastics engineer who tested dozens of facsimile woggles, plaintiff’s counsel proved that the injected mold had improperly placed gates, which produced air bubbles causing weakness in the woggle. This is a rare case of reverse engineering used to prove a defect when the injury causing product is no longer available for testing or examination.

Hornsby v. Undisclosed Mobile Trash Truck Manufacturer           $2,000,000

Under confidential settlement, the Defendant which was a national manufacturer of garbage truck container and compaction equipment, had designed and manufactured a tailgate with an unguarded, exposed “slide shoe” assembly for the hydraulically powered compaction arm, all of which created a hazardous pinch-point for operators of the truck. In downstate Illinois, the Plaintiff had all toes of his right foot amputated while troubling shooting for a hydraulic leak.

Transportation Negligence Cases

Eastwood v. American International Group        $5,000,000

The plaintiff a single, forty-year-old health care consultant was a backseat passenger in automobile involved in head-on collision. She sustained a C-2 through C-4 neck fractures requiring a fusion and a mild closed head injury. The plaintiff claimed that the head injury
caused her to be unable to perform complex tasks in the management of her health care staff. Plaintiff claimed that neck fracture also would require several future spine surgeries.

Stephens, et.al. v. Land Truck, Inc.               $1,700,000

The Plaintiff who was a front seat passenger in a Ford Box Truck suffered serious hip and knee injuries when his vehicle was rear-ended while stopped in a construction zone by the driver of a semi-tractor and attached trailer.

Baries v. CNA Insurance Co.                   $1,250,000

A family brought an underinsured motorist claim against CNA Insurance for the wrongful death of their fourteen-year-old daughter who had been a passenger in a one-auto crash. Their daughter was a freshman in high school without any income. The death occurred shortly after the Illinois General

Assembly had passed into law in l996 a new wrongful death limit of $500,000 for non-economic damage awards. This is the only reported case to settle in excess of the limit before the Illinois Supreme Court struck down the limit as unconstitutional.

Felgenhauer v. SYSCO Foods        $425,000

A woman pedestrian who was a curator for the Chicago Art Institute was walking outside the crosswalk and struck by a SYSCO Foods delivery truck which was turn right during rush-hour traffic causing a complex fracture in the lower leg.

Premises Liability Cases

Hallsten v. City of Chicago, et. Al.        $4,350,000

The plaintiff, a third-year law student who was riding his bicycle to school, attempted to cross Dearborn Street from Delaware Street on the corner where the Park Newberry High Rise building was being constructed. While stopped inside a construction sidewalk canopy within the Dearborn street crosswalk, the plaintiff looked for oncoming traffic and thought it was clear. As he entered into the moving lane, he was struck by an oncoming taxicab, ejecting him from his bicycle and rendering him a wheelchair bound, paraplegic.

The plaintiff alleged that the placement of the construction canopy created a blind spot for users of the crosswalk. Using traffic-engineering standards and computer-simulated models of the intersection, the plaintiff’s counsel demonstrated that the canopy interfered with the minimum site line distance for either a pedestrian to see and react to an oncoming vehicle or a driver to see an oncoming vehicle and react in a reasonable stopping time to an emerging pedestrian.

Hruby v. FCB, Ltd.          $1,400,00

The plaintiff age 42 was working as a part-time secretary in a commercial office building when she existed the rear door to a building, slipped and fell on concrete stoop and fractured her right heal. Plaintiff alleged that the stoop had an excessive slope in violation of building codes making it hazardous. The Plaintiff who was a diabetic developed a degenerative called “Charcot’s foot” from the traumatic fracture, which later resulted in amputation of her foot above the ankle.