December 12, 2013

Levin & Perconti Reach $6 Million Medical Malpractice Settlement on Behalf of Client

by Levin & Perconti

Chicago medical malpractice suits take many forms. While trends exist, attorneys who work on these matters always explain that no two cases are identical. That is because every patient has unique ailments, issues, and vulnerabilities, and caregivers act negligently in myriad of ways. Even cases that are rooted in the same general problem--misdiagnosis, surgical error, etc.--still may prove to involve very different legal issues and nuances.

In fact, some medical malpractice cases involve general lapses in care not directly related to specific medical decisions. When a medical patient enters a hospital, they are relying on caregivers to ensure everything about their stay is reasonable and free of negligence. That includes not falling on slippery floors, accidentally wandering into danger, or otherwise suffering injury because of caregiving mistakes.

Adverse Reaction Following Test
Recently, our team of medical malpractice lawyers at Levin & Perconti settled a case on behalf of a client whose mother died following an incident at Rush Medical Center. The medical patient was rushed to the hospital a few years ago with a variety of symptoms that were suggestive of some sort of heart problem. To get to the bottom of the situation, a doctor ordered a CT scan be performed. When the test was complete, the patient was moved to the hallway by the technician. That’s when problems began.

CT scans require use of a contrast dye. This dye is known to potentially cause adverse reactions in some patient, with the risk of exacerbating the injury that required the test in the first place. As a result, it is critical for medical professionals to closely monitor patients in the aftermath of these tests to ensure that any reaction to the dye is dealt with in an emergency manner. That does not appear to have happened in this case

Instead, a third Rush employee told the patient that she could use the bathroom alone--even though that employee was not aware of the patient’s condition or risk of adverse reaction. The patient ended up in a locked bathroom when suddenly the dye cause her heart condition to flare up. Eventually a patient head the mother’s cries for help from the bathroom. But it took caregivers time to reach her, because the door was locked and no key was available. The delay proved to be costly, as the mother suffered a permanent brain injury caused by lack of oxygen while caregivers tried to reach her. The woman survived for a few years with the serious brain injury before passing away from complications.

Our legal team eventually filed a lawsuit on behalf of the patient’s daughter seeking to hold the facility accountable for its failure to properly monitor the patient. That lawsuit was settled last month for $6 million.

All hospital employees must act prudently to ensure the well-being of patients. That includes situations like this one, where reasonable precautionary steps were not following after an examine, leading to brain injury and death. If you or someone you know was harmed in this way, please contact our lawyers today to learn about your options.

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September 9, 2013

$55 Million Settlement Reached in the case of American’s “Most Wanted Physician”

by Levin & Perconti

Nearly 300 patients sought the services of Dr. Mark Weinberger, an Indiana otolaryngologist (an ear, nose and throat specialist), complaining of allergies, congestion, headaches, and snoring. Instead of treating their conditions, however, the self-proclaimed “Nose Doctor” treated the patients for non-existing conditions that ultimately resulted in the doctor performing unnecessary surgical procedures. The Nose Doctor prematurely diagnosed patients with some sort of mucus drainage blockage condition. A Medspace article provides Weinberger then recommended and performed an outdated and problematic procedure of drilling two holes in the patient’s maxillary sinuses to supposedly facilitate mucus drainage. A major risk associated with such a procedure involves recirculation of mucus, thereby worsening the sinus complications. Most of the patient’s conditions could have been cured with medication or nasal irrigation.

In their medical malpractice claim, the patients alleged that the surgeries performed by Dr. Weinberger were not only unnecessary and fake, but led to devastating permanent physical changes. In one particular case, the Nose Doctor wrongly diagnosed a patient with a sinus problem when in actuality the patient had throat cancer. The patient died due to the misdiagnosis, which initiated a wrongful death suit by the decedent’s family.

In fear of the pending lawsuits, the Nose Doctor fled while on vacation in Greece in 2004. He would not be seen again for five years. On top of the alleged medical malpractice claims, in 2006 the federal government charged Weinberger with healthcare fraud for filing fictitious procedures with insurance companies amounting in over $530,000.

USA Today reports that after 5 years of searching, the fugitive doctor was finally captured and arrested in 2009 on the snowy mountains of Italy living in a tent. The Nose Doctor plead guilty to the charges and was sentenced to 7 years in prison. A federal judge held Weinberger operated a “surgical factory” and his medical office earned over $30 million in the three years prior to his disappearance. Almost 15 times more than the average medical office under similar conditions.

The pending medical malpractice suit finally reached a resolve. In June 2013, a judge approved a $55 million medical malpractice settlement that will be divvied up between the 282 patients, according to the The Associated Press. This settlement is the largest settlement involving a single healthcare professional in Indiana. The patients will be compensated through a medical malpractice program administered by the state.

Similar to the Weinberger case, the vast majority of medical malpractice cases do not go to trial. Instead, the cases are either dropped, disposed of, or settled upon. So it is not unusual for such a case to never make it to trial.

Do you think you have a medical malpractice claim?
Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare provider carelessly deviates from the accepted standard of medical care that results in an injury to the patient. Physicians are respected by society for their humane service, and the law imposes a duty on them to conform to the standards of care an average, qualified provider in a similar medical field under similar circumstances would also follow.

If you or a loved one has sustained harm or even death as a direct result of careless medical care, please contact our attorneys for a free consultation to see what legal rights may be available to you. Our team will evaluate your case and guide you through the legal process.

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Doctor Charged with Misdiagnosing Cancer Patients to Collect Millions from Medicare

August 16, 2013

New Medicare Fraud Suit Against PharMerica

by Levin & Perconti

This week Reuters shared the news that a large pharmaceutical company, PharMerica, was hit by a lawsuit filed by the U.S. government. The suit claims that the company engaged in a series of illegal activities. The allegations suggest that patients lives were put in danger by PharMerica’s actions and significant funds were funneled fraudulently from Medicare as a result.

Whistleblower Comes Forward
The U.S. government lawsuit against PharMerica comes two years after the same allegations were made in a whistleblower lawsuit filed by a former employee of the company. The whistleblower, who worked as a pharmacy operations manager at one company facility, explained how the pharmacy dispensed medication without first getting valid prescriptions from doctors.

The company at the center of the suit, PharMerica, is a sizeable entity which mostly provides medications for senior residents in nursing homes. According to recent reports, over the two year period covered by this government lawsuit, at least 300,000 senior residents were serviced by PharMerica, totaling 40 million annual prescriptions

The complaint filed by the U.S. Government is based on the False Claims Act and Controlled Substances Act, and argues that over at least a two year period, hundred of false claims were made to Medicare for those prescriptions which should never have been given out. The government is seeking “triple damages,” as it is entitled under the law.

The main drugs in question were fentanyl and oxycodone. Those familiar with these medications are aware the dangers they pose when not used properly. If given without cause or in incorrect dosages, use of these ‘Schedule II” drugs can cause real danger to unsuspecting patients.

Federal official allege that company engaged in conduct that bypassed physicians and gave individual nursing home staff members the power to order these powerful drugs for residents. Essentially, staff members would tell the pharmacists to dispense the narcotics and PharMerica employees would comply, even though there were no signed doctor authorizations

In explaining the suit the assistant attorney general involved in the case noted, “Pharmacies are prohibited by law from dispensing Schedule II narcotics, which have the highest potential for abuse of any prescription drug, without a valid prescription from a physician."

Qui Tam
As this case demonstrates, one of the most critical tools to combat the unlawful intersection of money and poor patient care are whistleblowers. It is often impossible for outside regulators to fully catch misconduct like that which may have occurred here. Instead, we rely on those familiar with the incident to come forward and shed light on unsafe or illegal practices by healthcare providers, from hospitals and pharmaceutical companies to nursing homes and oncology clinics.

Besides ensuring the best for fellow community members, there are also built-in legal incentives for whistleblowers to step forward. “Qui tam” laws exist which allow private individuals to file private lawsuits in these cases. If successful those who come forward are able to seek a percentage of the total funds recouped. In other words, it is one of the rare cases when doing the right thing is a win-win.

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June 26, 2013

Supreme Court Decides Pharmaceutical Case - Bad for Consumers

by Levin & Perconti

This week marks the typical end of the yearly session for the United States Supreme Court. Per tradition, it is during this week that the Court officially releases their rulings in the most controversial cases that were heard over the last eight to ten months. Yesterday, the court did just that in a case related to liability for defects in generic drugs in Mutual Pharmaceutical Co. v. Bartlett. This is a case that we have discussed before as having important implications for many different Chicago residents and medical patients.

Unfortunately, though not wholly unexpected, the court’s opinion runs counter to the best interests of those harmed by dangerous drugs. The full online text version of the opinion can be found online here.

The Case
This legal matter affects the public regulation of the drug industry, in particular the tort liability of generic drug manufacturers following design defect claims.

Both state and federal governments are involved in regulating the drug industry, fighting to ensure that only safe products make it to the market. Under federal law, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has a process regard design and labeling standards that must be met to ensure consumers are aware of the risks posed by each product. Under federal law generic drug manufacturers are similarly required to have consistent labeling with the brand name products that they are mimicking. The law also requires that the generic drug itself be chemically the same as the brand name drugs they are copying.

The issue in this most recent case, are whether federal rules regarding avoidance of liability after meeting FDA standards “preempts’ state laws which allow liability for such defects by generic harm. In other words, the case decided whether a patient harmed by a generic drug with a design defect could sue and win damages under state law even though they did not have a cause of action under federal law.

The Opinion
In yesterday’s opinion the court sided with the pharmaceutical company and determined that the patient harmed by the dangerous drug could not sue under state law (she had been awarded $21 million in damages by the state court).

Justice Alito wrote the opinion for the divided court. The 5-4 majority agreed that because federal law required the generic drug manufacturer not to change the product and because injuries of this nature lead to “strict liability” then allowing the generic drug manufacturer to be held accountable made it impossible for it comply with both state and federal law. The Court rejected the notion put forward by lower courts that the manufacturer could either stop selling in the state or pay for damages as part of the cost of doing business there.

Four justices disagreed with the assessment and took issue with the fact that this ruling ignores the roles of the state to regulate itself. One of the dissents from Justice Sotomayor explained that the ruling “has left a seriously injured customer without any remedy despite Congress’ explicit efforts to preserve state common-law liability.”

Regardless of the changes in the legal landscape as a result of this case, please be sure to speak with an attorney for tailored guidance following any injury related to medical errors or dangerous drugs.

See Other Blog Posts:

Important New U.S. Supreme Court Case on Liability for Generic Drug Errors

The Consequences of U.S. Supreme Court Hearings on Generic Drugs

April 15, 2013

Jury Reaches Verdict for Wrongful Death Following Gallbladder Surgery Delay

by Levin & Perconti

Medical malpractice refers to all cases where there are claims of professional negligence caused by doctors, nurses, and other care providers. Sometimes these are traditional negligence claims filed by the patient themselves when they are injured as a result of medical errors. At other times, when the patient dies as a result of the mistake, a wrongful death lawsuit is filed. In each case medical malpractice is the heart of the matter, but some of the procedural steps are different depending on who is actually bringing the lawsuit--the patient or a family members following a death.

Wrongful Death Suit after Surgery Delay
AL.com recently reported on a jury verdict in one of those wrongful death cases following medical malpractice. It is an example of the serious consequences of delayed treatment--in this case a failure to order emergency surgery in time. According to the story, the original case was filed by a widow after her 56-year old husband died on Christmas Day in 2008.

During trial the attorney for the widow explained how the man was first admitted to the hospital where the defendant doctor worked in late November of that year. He had severe gallbladder pain upon admission, and he ultimately stayed at the hospital for five days. Yet, he had only been back at home for two days before the pain was again unbearable and he went back into the facility. He stayed for another five days before yet another discharge.

The plaintiff’s attorney explained that “All of the doctors involved in [the man’s] treatment and care determined on the very first day of this admission that [he] gallbladder needed to be removed. However, the surgeon made the decision to wait on removing his gallbladder at that time.”

As before it was only a few days after his second discharge before the pain returned and he was again forced back into the hospital. This time he stayed in the facility for well over two weeks before ultimately dying. An autopsy was performed, and the coroner determined that the death was caused by a “pus filled gallbladder with severe inflammation and infection.”

After the relatively young man’s death, his widow sought the aid of an attorney and filed a wrongful death lawsuit. At trial, the lawyer’s explained how the delay in surgery to remove the gallbladder were unjustified. That delay ultimately led directly to the man’s death. Together this constitutes medical malpractice. The jury agreed with the plaintiff, reaching a verdict of $3 million against the surgeon and surgical center that were named as defendants in the case. It is unclear if those defendant’s plan on appealing the decision, though one lawyer did indicate that they were looking at their post-trial options.

As this sad situation reminds, timing is critical in so many medical situations. Unjustified delay is never appropriate. Also, “yo-yo” treatment with frequent discharges and readmissions should always be avoided, as it may be a sign that care in the original case was not appropriate or sufficient.

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March 22, 2013

U.S. Supreme Court Rejects State’s Attempt to Take Excessive Funds From Legal Recovery

by Levin & Perconti

We often point out how securing a successful verdict is sometimes only part of the legal battle. That is because securing a judgement which shows that you are owed money is only the first step in actually receiving that recovery. In some cases, the process is relatively straightforward, and insurance companies or other parties ensure their obligations are handled. At other times, more extensive efforts much be undertaken to force those responsible to pay what is owed.

Another complexity involves using those funds--either a settlement or verdict--to repay third parties who also have a stake in the matter. Most notably, this usually includes government sources which provided support following the harm, usually in the form of medical care. Reimbursing Medicaid, for example, can often result in delay and headaches for those merely wanting to end the matter and get on with their lives. Fortunately, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid recently supported plans to change procedures in such a way that will hopefully eliminate delay in making reimbursement claims.

In addition, some state Medicaid programs often try to demand excessive reimbursements, adding even more controversy and delaying a final resolution even longer. For example, North Carolina came under significant scrutiny recently as a result of state laws which found an irrebuttable statutory presumption that Medicaid was entitled to one-third of any tort recovery for which funds were provided. Essentially, this means that the state could demand significant portions of any recovery for a plaintiff without clear explanation for why the state needed to be reimbursed that much. Because the presumption was irrebuttable, there was nothing that plaintiffs in the state could do to show how the one-third taking was excessive in their case.

Legal Challenge
Fortunately, legal advocates took up the matter and challenged the rule in federal court. The main argument was that the state requirements ran counter to federal laws, specifically the anti-lien provisions in federal Medicaid statutes. In most cases federal laws always “pre-empt” state laws on the same subject.

The case made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court (Wos v. E.M.A.). The high court ultimately upheld lower court rulings and struck down the state law. The court opinion explained how the federal law did not allow states to put liens on tort awards which were not specifically designated as necessary for medical care. The North Carolina law was a blanket one-third presumption, which would therefore not be tailored to the specifics payments for medical care provided to each plaintiff. This was a 6-3 opinion, with a dissent supported by Justices Roberts, Scalia, and Thomas.

The bottom line effect is a good one for judicial fairness and the rights of those harmed by the negligence of others in any manner of ways, including medical malpractice. Basically, this holding means that similar state laws will not be upheld. States will not be able to pass arbitrary rules so that they can take portions of a recovery without showing how taking those funds is specifically tied to reimbursement for medical expenses paid by the state program.

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February 15, 2013

High Profile Orthopedic Surgeon Investigated for Gross Negligence After Injuries

by Levin & Perconti

A well-known doctor who has worked with many professional athletes, sports teams, and national events has come under fire for allegations of severe mistakes which caused harm to those in his care. The Aspen Daily News recently provided background on the story and explained the allegations against the medical professional. The tale is a reminder that all medical settings come with a risk of substandard care--even when the doctor is apparently at the top of his field.

State Investigation
According to the report, the doctor involved is known has been the medical director for ESPN’s X Games nearly since its inception on top of being the head team physician of NFL football’s San Diego Chargers for many years.

The state’s board of medical director recently admitted that the doctor has been under investigation for the past several months after allegations of gross negligence related to some of his medical services. Specifically, there are concerns about the standard of care provided in up to four different surgeries as well as the proper upkeep (or lack of upkeep) of medical records.

The state board officially charged the doctor with gross negligence for one hip surgery performed in 2007 as well as other misconduct. Per administrative protocols, the case now advances to a hearing--not yet scheduled--where both sides will likely be able to present information and argue their case before neutral decisionmaker. It is only then, if the doctor is found guilty of those charges, that he may face some penalty, ranging from permanent loss of medical license to probation.

Observers explain that the state board’s call for serious punishments as a result of their findings is significant. Not all who are investigated end up having the board make that recommendation. For example, according to record shared in the story, of the 185 cases of negligence brought to the state board last year, only 18 had their licenses revoked.

A healthcare academic explained, “It would appear that for this kind of action to be contemplated [license revocation], there is a basic question about safety being raised and whether the person would be able to practice in a way that would not harm patients. When you see a pattern of allegations brought against someone because they practice in a less than safe way ... it raises alarm bells.”

That pattern has likely been building against this doctor for years. Over the last fifteen years, at least 23 claims of medical malpractice have been brought against the surgeon. In the last two years alone, he lost two separate medical malpractice lawsuits, with total payouts to victims of nearly $7.5 million.

On top of all of that, the doctor has had a few problems outside of the medical setting as well. For example, in 2007 he was cited by the medical board for failing to disclose that he was convicted of driving under the influence. That is combined with ethics violations related to his upkeep of medical records--though the doctor is still fighting those claims. All told, there are very serious claims about this professional’s ability to practice safely. Patients need to be aware of those risks and regulations should only only his continued practicing if they can be sure patients are not exposed to harm.

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January 4, 2013

Possible New Rules for Illinois Medical Malpractice Contingency Fees

by Levin & Perconti

Contingency fees are a critical part of the civil justice system, used frequently on many personal injury cases and medical malpractice matters. The basic idea is that it is manifestly unjust for someone injured by the misconduct of another to be prohibited from seeking accountability because of their inability to pay up-front legal costs to bring the case. After all, the very reason that many lawsuits are filed is because of the precarious financial situation some are placed in after an accident. Life savings are often drained to pay for medical and other costs, and the injury often makes work impossible. It makes little sense to allow the wrongdoer to avoid accountability so long as they harm someone of less means.

That is where contingency fees come into play. The basic idea is that attorneys agree to bear the risk of the uncertain legal outcome and take a share of the award (settlement or verdict) only after it is received by the plaintiff. If no damages are received then the plaintiff is no worse off and the lawyer bears the loss of time and expenses paid up to that point. Overall, it is a common sense solution to ensure that everyone has access to justice no matter what their financial situation.

New Illinois Med Mal Contingency Law
Contingency fee practices for Chicago medical malpractice attorneys are governed by various rules including the Code of Civil Procedure and the Illinois Supreme Court Rules of Professional Conduct. These guidelines lay out many of the “Dos” and “Dont’s” of contingency fee arrangements. For example, attorneys cannot take on a criminal case on a contingency fee basis, because there is no possibility of financial recovery. Similarly, contingency arrangement in divorce matters are not allowed for similar reasons and because of the public policy interest in preserving marriage.

The rules also provide guidelines regarding how much a portion of an award an attorney may take. This usually hinges on the type of case at issue--anything from worker’s compensation matters to medical malpractice--as well as the amount of time and effort put in by the attorney before the final resolution. Some cases may be settled very quickly after the filing of the suit, while other may require a long and tedious discovery process with a settlement reached just before trial. These differences may affect the actual percentage of the final award that the attorney receives for his or her work.

Lawmakers sometimes tweak those rules. In fact, one proposal introduced this week on the Illinois General Assembly Senate floor (HB5151) does just that. The measure amends the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure to cap contingency fees for Illinois medical malpractice cases at 33.33% of all sums recovered. In the past a less wieldy determination was used which provided different fee levels based on the total amount recovered, with tiered percentages for the first $150,000 obtained, a lower percentage for the next $850,000, and even lower for any subsequent award. The newly proposed system is much more straightforward and transparent.

A full text of the bill can be found here. According to the information on the ILGA website, the Senate finally took action this week during it’s “lame duck” session, passing the bill on a full floor vote on a 36-15 vote. The House is set to vote on the matter next week. If it passes, the measure would be sent to the Governor who could make it law with his signature.

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January 2, 2013

New Levin & Perconti Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Settlement

by Levin & Perconti

Our legal team at Levin & Perconti works with families throughout Illinois who have been harmed by inadequate medical care. Medical malpractice cases are often incredibly heart-wrenching, because they involve community members whose trust is violated by those on whom they thought they could depend.

Whenever a case is filed, one of the first things that happens is both sides begin collecting information about the situation which may be used down the road in court proceedings. This involves interviewing the individuals involved (like the patients and the doctor), collecting relevant documents (medical records), and similar fact-finding matters. The time associated with gathering all of this potential evidence is one reason why some of these cases take many months to sort out.

However, in more cases than not, all of that information gathering does not actually end with a trial and presentation of information to a judge or jury. Instead, after the details are uncovered, both parties in the dispute often reach agreement regarding fair compensation and accountability to resolve the matter. This settlement process is a good thing--it saves time and expense and expedites the judicial process.

Illinois Medical Malpractice Settlement
Recently, three of our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers, Steven Levin, Michael Bonamarte, and Cari Silverman worked on a case filed against the University of Chicago Medical Center. The lawsuit was filed following injuries sustained by a patient at the facility in early 2011.

In a story that is familiar to many community members, a 45-year old man was having chest pains, and so he went to his doctor for help. The doctor ordered him to have an magnetic resonance angiogram (MRA). The test is used to determine if one has aneurysms. Medline Plus explains that an aneurysm is a “ballooning” of an artery. When the aneurysm grows too large it can burst causing serious injury or even death. Many aneurysms are found in the aorta, the main artery originating in the heart and traveling through the chest. Fortunately, when caught, medical professionals can take action and prevent the bursting. Depending on the exact situation, medication or surgery might be needed to correct the problem.

The man in this case had the MRA performed on February 11th. But the test was not read right away. As a result, nothing was done and the man eventually had suffered a serious injury as a result of an aortic aneurysm and died on February 20th. The MRA test was not read until the following day, February 21st. If doctors had acted promptly and read the test, surgery would likely have been performed which could have saved his life.

After taking the case our attorneys were able to negotiate a settlement with the defendant-hospital in the amount of $4.5 million. The funds will be used to support the man’s wife, four children, and two grandchildren who were left behind.

Failing to read medical tests in a timely manner is often an example of medical malpractice. It is incumbent upon doctors to act in a reasonable manner to identify possible medical issues and provide appropriate treatment.

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November 24, 2012

Jury Finds For Plaintiff in Suit Against Radiologist

by Levin & Perconti

Another medical malpractice case went to trial and, according to a report from Seacoast Online, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff. The suit stemmed from a misdiagnosis that the patient claims was caused by errors made by the plaintiff's radiologist. As with all misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis cases, the plaintiff's argument was that if proper standards of care had been followed, then the proper diagnosis would have been reached in a timely manner, preventing harm to the patient.

Radiologist Liable for Failing to Diagnosis
The article summarizing the case explains that the plaintiff went to the hosptial in order to get help for a prolonged and severe headache. In addition to the headache, the woman began showing some neurological problems, indicating some brain issue. Her speech was slurred. In order to get at root of the problem a CT scan was performed. The results of that scan were read by the defendant-radiologist. That is where the problems originated, claim the woman.

The radiologist apparently ruled out most possible options She did note a few irregularities in the test results; however, she mostly dismissed those irregularities as "of doubtful clinical significance."

This was of little help to the patient whose condition continued to detereorate over time. Eventually she had to be airlifted to another location. At the new facility a second CT scan was conducted. The radiologist who interpreted those test results found clear problems. According to the suit in this med mal case, the second doctor found "bilateral intracranial hemorrhages with extension into subarachnoids from the superior sagittal sinus caused by thrombosis or stroke." Thanks to this second test, the woman was ordered immediately into surgery.

Later, another doctor viewed the same test results that the defendant had dismissed. That second doctor determined that the test did in fact show clear abnormalities.

Med Mal Lawsuit
In the aftermath of this medical situation, the woman and her husband filed suit aganst the radiologist at the first facility that failed to properly identify the brain problem. Specifically, the lawsuit states that the defendant-radiologist was negligent in disregarding the obvious abnormalities in the test results. The delay was not without consequences. The complaint noted that had the reslts been properly interpreted she would have received quicker treatment, resulting in the prevention of some of the more serious side effects of the stroke. The woman still requires extensive therapy to re-learn many basic skills. As with all brain injuries, the consequences can impact virtually all areas of an individual's functioning. Also, the woman was relatively young in this case and, as a result of the stroke, she may have problems down the road in a subsequent pregnancy.

After hearing all the evidence in the case, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff. She was awarded $5 million for the far-reaching consequences of the medical error. The jury found the radiologist entirely at fault. The defense had previously argued that the ER team also played a role in their failure to respond to possible concerns raised by the radiologist. However, that argument was rejected by the jury.

If you or someone you know may have been affected by a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis in the Chicago area, please get in touch with the legal professionals at our firm to see how we can help.

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November 10, 2012

State Court to Hear Case on Exclusion of Testimony in Malpractice Case

by Levin & Perconti

Only a minority of medical malpractice cases that are filed go to trial. That is either because the others are dismissed or result in a pre-trial settlment. Matters that go to trial are more costly, because more expensive legal work is required. In most cases, it is preferable for the parties to reach an agreement on an amount of compensation that avoids those expenses and ensures fair redress for the harm caused. However, there are times when those settlements cannot be reached. That usually results from one of two situations. Either the parties are not on the same page when it comes to a specific settlement amount or the defendant refuses to believe that they were actually negligent. Therefore, trials in malpractice cases are most common in situations where the amount of damages is disputed and in cases where the existence of negligence is a close call and could go either way.

In any event, when a case does go to trial, one of the most critical aspects of the resolution stem from evidentiary rules. Clients are often surprised by the complexity of these procedural rules about what can and cannot be said. It is not necessarily as simple as having any piece of information that might be relevant introduced at trial. Just because something is relevant is not the deciding factor--other barriers exist. Arguing over those barriers is often extensive. The evidentiary decisions are made by the judge, not the jury, and therefore may form the basis of an appeal by the party losing a case.

Medical Malpractice Appeal
For example, the Mitchell Republic published a story recently on an appeal reaching a state Supreme Court regarding the admissability of certain evidence in a medical malpractice case. The matter stems from a wrist surgery in which a metal plate and screws were installed in a wrist. The patient claims that the screws were placed in such a position that is caused her extreme pain. She asked for compensation for the pain and medical bills.

The patient had a video deposition taken of an orthopaedic surgeon who claimed that the doctor in this case breached the standard of care by failing to explain to the woman the risk of complications regarding the placement of the screw. However, the trial judge excluded the section of the video at trial. The jury was only allowed to see a portion of the video where this statement was not made. The judge did not allow that section of the tape to be displayed becase, he ruled, the plaintiff's attorney did not properly disclose the section to the defense counsel before trial. There are strict rules about how information needs to be shared between both sides in a civil law case.

The plaintiff attorney contests the matter and argues that the proper disclosure was given. Therefore, the exclusion of the full video at trial was in error which caused harm to the patient's case. He made that argument in front of the state's Supreme Court this week. Depending on the court's decision, the matter may be done for good or it may be sent back for a re-trial with the full extent of the case heard by a new jury. Also, if sent back, it is possible for the parties to decide to settle the matter.

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November 9, 2012

Levin & Perconti Attorneys Win Two Jury Verdicts in One Week

by Levin & Perconti

Even though most civil cases do not make it to trial, an attorney must be prepared to go all the way in every single case from the start. That is because it is impossible to know for sure how the legal process will unfold. A lot depends on the approach taken by the opposing side and the information that becomes available as the case is investigated. Being prepared for everything is essential in solid advocacy, and our team of lawyers at the law firm of Levin & Perconti are proud to take that to heart.

For example, just last week we won two jury verdicts, one of which invovled a case of medical malpractice. Please click here to read more about this important series of wins for our clients.

Verdict for Plaintiff in Chicago Medical Malpractice Case
Associate Margaret Battersby Black sat first chair in the case with associate Cari Silverman acting as second chair in the Illinois medical malpractice case. The suit stemmed for a tragic fall that the loved one of our client took while at Northwest Community Hospital. Thhe 88-year old woman was in the facility's radiology department when she fell off an examination table. These sorts of incidents are dangerous for anyone, but the risks are heightened when seniors are involved. Their vulnerabilities and fall risks must be taken into account by medical professionals.

The tumble caused significant injuries. Sadly, the senior passed away a few months after this incident. Our attorneys were able to show that the death was caused by the injuries sustained in the fall at the medical facility. The hosptial admitted their liability in the matter, but there was strong disagreement over the damages. However, over the course of the trial, which began on October 29th and ended on November 1st, our team was able to present a clear case to the jury. As a result, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the woman's family for the wrongful death for over $580,000.

Second Win
The very next day after the medical malpractice verdict was anounced, a team of our Illinois nursing home lawyers earned a $650,000 verdict after a nursing home resident died due to a fall at the facility. Veteran nursing home attorney and firm partner John J. Perconti led that team along with associate Patricia Gifford who was second chair in the case.

Like the medical malpractice case, this nursing home matter involved a deadly fall that caused serious injuries and lead to a death a few months later. Because the matter involved claims under the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act, the defendants in the case will also be required to pay for attorneys fees.

All of us at Levin & Perconti are committed to going the extra mile to ensure that those we represent receive the full value of all of their losses. Often that can be accomplished via a settlement without the need to go to trial. However, in cases where an agreement cannot be reached, we are prepared to do whatever it takes to provide fierce representation through trial. If you or someone you know has been hurt by a medical mistake or any other form of negligence, please take a moment to get in touch with our team and see how we can help.

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November 24, 2010

Levin & Perconti Lawyers Reach $6.5 Million Settlement Following Birth Injury

by Levin & Perconti

Over ten years ago a family’s life was forever altered following a birth injury that occurred at the Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Illinois. Several of our Chicago malpractice attorneys at Levin & Perconti filed a lawsuit against the negligent medical professional and hospital involved in the error to help vindicate the rights of the injured child and her family. The suit was settled today with the hospital and the physician providing the family with $6.5 million. Two of our attorneys, John Perconti and Patricia Gifford, represented the family in the ordeal.

There were no apparent complications when the victimized mother was brought to the Lutheran General around 3:30 in the morning on September 26, 2000. The mother had not had any complications during the nine month pregnancy—a normal delivery was expected. Yet, problems arose during the pregnancy itself for which the medical team involved failed to account. Specifically, the nursing and delivery doctor failed to notice the fact that the child’s head was too large to fit through the mother’s pelvis—a condition known as cephalic pelvic disproportion.

The problems did not end there.

Medical professionals also gave the mother Pitocin, a labor inducement medication that was unnecessary because contractions were normal at the time. Four hours later the baby had not descended. Signs were present that indicated fetal hypoxia—oxygen deprivation to the child. The oxygen problem continued for over 15 minutes. Yet the medical professionals took no notice. Following even more complications the obstetrician ordered a Cesarean Section, but the anesthesiologist improperly anesthetized the mother forcing her arms and legs to be held down while the incision was made.

When the baby girl was finally born she suffered from cerebral palsy and mental retardation because of the oxygen deprivation. The now ten year old girl has trouble walking, minor cognitive defects, and needs assistance dressings, bathing, and using the bathroom. Her family will need to provide on-going medical care for the rest of her life.

Our Chicago malpractice attorney John Perconti explained, “The unfortunate mix of an inexperienced family practitioner practicing obstetrics and an inexperienced labor and deliver nurse caused a relatively common labor abnormality to go unrecognized, untreated and undiagnosed until it was too late.”

Please Click Here to learn more about this malpractice lawsuit settlement.

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November 11, 2010

Settlement Reached in Hospital Scheme Causing Unnecessary Procedures

by Levin & Perconti

The Washington Post reported this week on a settlement in a particularly troubling case of medical deceit. The situation involved a relationship that St. Joseph Medical Center had with MidAtlantic Cardiovascular Associates—a cardiovascular group co-founded by Mark D. Midei. Midei is a cardiologist who has been charged with medical fraud, causing hundreds of patients to undergo unwarranted heart procedures.

St. Joseph hosptial was charged with taking kickbacks from MidAtlantic in exchange for referring patients to MidAtlantic for “lucrative cardiovascular procedures.” The illegal relationship reportedly took place over a ten year stretch from 1996 to 2006. The kickback was disguised as a payment for services but was instead an attempt to hide the illegal referral scheme. Of course, referral payments in this way incentivize costly, dangerous, and unnecessary treatments. That sort of relationship makes money the object of medical care instead of the needs of the patient.

Dr. Midei eventually left his job at MidAtlantic to work full-time for St. Joseph, taking a high profile seven figure salary. The employment lasted until 2009, when accusations about Midei’s falsification of records led the hospital to contact hundreds of its former patients and warn them of the possible error.

The hospital explained that it “reached the agreement without admitting liability in order to avoid the expense and uncertainty of litigation.”

Continue reading "Settlement Reached in Hospital Scheme Causing Unnecessary Procedures" »

May 16, 2010

Jury Awards Victim $3.5 Million Medical Malpractice Verdict

by Levin & Perconti

The Sun is reporting a large medical malpractice verdict involving a woman who lawyers say is now a paraplegic. A 53-year-old victim won a $3.5 million medical malpractice verdict against the two surgeons and their business. The woman had underwent surgery for blocked arteries three years ago and had disastrous results. After the surgery she filed a medical malpractice lawsuit. The jury found the two doctors responsible for the victim’s injuries.

The medical malpractice trial focused on the fact that the doctors used an improper grafting technique. The victim claimed that this medical error led to blood loss and other injuries which included damage to her spinal cord. This left her as a paraplegic and unable to walk. Although she still has some feeling in her legs, she is in constant pain. The medical malpractice verdict has given her some sense of security. She has not been able to resume her lifestyle since the medical error. The jury awarded the victim $1.3 million for noneconomic damages, $2 million for future medical bills, and more than $200,000 for prior bills. As a paraplegic, this victim will experience many future medical bills for ongoing treatment and rehabilitiation.

In cases such as this, noneconomic damages oftentimes include lost wages. The mistakes of medical providers can leave victims unable to return to their normal work life. When this occurs, it is important to seek compensation for lost earnings. If you have experienced lost wages as a result of medical malpractice, consult a Chicago medical malpractice attorney. To read more about this specific medical malpractice case, please click the link.

May 8, 2010

Ex-Dolphin football Star Wins $11.5 Million in Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

by Levin & Perconti

The New York Times is reporting that a jury has awarded former Dolphins player O.J. McDuffie a $11.5 million medical malpractice verdict. This medical error was committed by a prominent physician and ended the football player’s career. The medical malpractice trial lasted for 2.5 weeks and discussed the career-ending toe injury. The doctor was a former Miami Dolphins team doctor.

The medical malpractice lawsuit alleged that there was negligence and malpractice after the football player received treatment for his toe injury. This injury was originally suffered in 1999. The Dolphins doctor had told the player that he could continue to play football despite MRIs that said the toe had tendon damage. He also had several other medical malpractice settlements with other doctors. To read more about the medical malpractice verdict, please click the link.

When people become victims of medical malpractice, they are entitled to receive compensation for future medical care and pain and suffering. These medical malpractice victims are also entitled to receive compensation for lost wages that they may have incurred due to the medical malpractice. This verdict reflects that lost wages can vary from patient to patient. Since this medical malpractice victim was an NFL football player, he was entitled to larger wages, which made his medical malpractice verdict quite high. The jury had awarded the player $10 million of lost earnings. McDuffie was a first-round draft pick with a sizable professional career. If you have been a victim of medical error, please consult a Chicago medical malpractice lawyer.

May 6, 2010

Family Awarded $18 Million in Cerebral Palsy Medical Malpractice Case

by Levin & Perconti

NJ.com is reporting that a family has been awarded an 18.5 million medical malpractice verdict against a hospital and an obstetrician. The medical malpractice lawsuit alleged that he doctors were not quick enough to perform an emergency C-Section on the boy in 1998. This then resulted in birth delay which caused the victim’s cerebral palsy. Medical experts testified that if this baby had been delivered just eight minutes earlier, he would not have been inflicted with cerebral palsy. This small timeframe resulted in a medical error that is going to change this young boy’s life forever.

The boy’s mother also had a legal suit against the doctor and hospital, but unfortunately she died from unrelated causes six years ago. The medical malpractice lawsuit will help take care of the victim for the rest of his life. His new adopted mother is pleased with the medical malpractice verdict. The jury deliberated for two days before handing down the verdict. The boy is now 12 years old. He will need extra care to help with his cerebral palsy.

When physicians fail to perform c-sections in a timely manner, birth injuries can occur. One possible birth injury is cerebral palsy, which the person will suffer from for life. Cerebral Palsy is an encompassing term that groups disorders that appear during the first few years of a baby’s life. It affects a child’s muscle systems and leaves them either weak and floppy or rigid and stiff. If your child is a victim of cerebral palsy, please consult a Chicago medical malpractice lawyer.

April 17, 2010

$9.5 Million Settlement Reached in Cerebral Palsy Case

by Levin & Perconti

A medical malpractice victim has settled with an Illinois hospital, a nurse midwife and the nurse’s employer for a $9.5 million medical malpractice lawsuit. The victims had alleged that the hospital was a fault for causing their son’s cerebral palsy. The victim’s mother was admitted to the hospital in 1996 while she was in labor with her son. The nurse had failed to promptly get a doctor when the mother requested one upon experiencing complications. The Illinois judge and mediator agreed to the medical malpractice settlement and believed it was good for both sides. This case took place in an Elgin hospital. To read more about this medical malpractice settlement, please click the link.

In the United States alone, about 10,000 babies per year will develop cerebral palsy. About two-thirds of those children will be mentally impaired. One cause of cerebral palsy is birth injury or birth trauma. Medical negligence, such as careless handling of the child’s cranium or an undetected oxygen blockage in the child’s brain is a factor in cerebral palsy cases. There are two factors that can indicate potential dangers during prolonged labor. These include the baby getting “stuck” in the birth canal with no oxygen supply. Also, if your water broke and your doctor didn’t make sure that you delivered within 24 hours you should alert someone immediately. If your child developed cerebral palsy as the result of medical negligence, consult a Chicago medical malpractice lawyer. To learn more facts about cerebral palsy, please check out the link.

April 15, 2010

Victim Awarded $1.5 Million in Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

by Levin & Perconti

A medical malpractice victim was awarded a $1.5 million settlement for the pain and suffering he incurred at the hands of hospital employees. This man was originally suffering from diabetes and chronic pancreatic pain when he sought the aide of hospital employees. He was admitted to the hospital where he sought treatment for complications from his pancreatic disease in 2005. Court documents show that a nurse inserted an IV containing the drug Phenargen for anti nausea and inserted Demerol for pain. She inserted the IV into the patient’s wrist. When medical personnel checked on his condition an hour later he appeared to be in good condition. However, approximately 9 hours after the IV was inserted the site appeared to be “painful and swollen.” Forty five minutes after that the needle needed to be removed.

LawyersandSettlements.com is reporting that the man was then transported to a different hospital where he immediately underwent surgery on his wrist. The surgeons, however, were unable to save the victim’s thumb. The victim had to endure multiple additional surgeries in order to save his hand. A medical investigation concluded that the nurses had allowed the drugs to infiltrate the tissue surrounding the IV needle. To read more about this medical malpractice case, please click the link.

This type of medical error, one that leaves the patient without the use of appendages, has become all too common. The Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at Levin & Perconti settled a medical malpractice case where a premature baby lost her finger in the same manner, through the improper insertion of IV drugs. Please contact a Chicago medical malpractice attorney if you believe you have been a victim of medical malpractice.

April 9, 2010

Jury Awards Family $10 Million in an Ambulance Birth

by Levin & Perconti

A jury has awarded a medical malpractice victim $10 million. The Orlando Sentinel is reporting that the jury found the ambulance service at fault for the victim’s son’s premature birth injuries incurred in the ambulance. The medical malpractice trial lasted two-weeks. The jury decided that the company was negligent for transporting the woman when she gave birth to her son en route to the hospital. The boy is now six.

At the time of the birth he weighed 1.7 pounds and suffered a lack of oxygen to the brain. This left the boy suffering from cerebral palsy. While no amount of money will make up for the damage that her son has occurred, the victim is pleased with the outcome. The original medical malpractice lawsuit also included the hospitals and doctors. All of these defendants settled with the plaintiff for a total of $1.4 million last year. The medical malpractice lawsuit alleged that the victim first went to a medical center suffering from pain and premature labor. The emergency room physician believed that she should stay and be treated at the hospital, but an ambulance was called to transport her to another hospital. The boy was born about 15 minutes into the trip but had trouble breathing. CPR needed to be performed.

Cerebral Palsy, which involves lack of motor function, can result as a result of medical negligence. If your child has cerebral palsy, please contact a Chicago medical malpractice attorney. To read more about this specific medical malpractice trial, please click the link.