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Plaintiffs can sue doctor even after settling with hospital

The Illinois appellate court recently vacated a ruling that would have dismissed a personal injury claim. The plaintiffs alleged medical malpractice against both a hospital and a physician, Dr. Richard Sandore. The plaintiff’s wife was experiencing difficulty with her pregnancy and was brought to the hospital by ambulance. She requested that she be taken to a specific hospital, but the urgency of her condition required that paramedics instead take her to the nearest one. Despite this urgency, the plaintiff was not seen by a gynecologist for one and a half hours after she had been admitted. Even then, although Sandore decided that a c-section was needed, the baby was not born for another hour after that. As a result of these delays, the baby was born with severe neurological damage.

The hospital initially denied responsibility, pointing out that the doctor was the one who was responsible. The hospital further tried to absolve itself of responsibility by saying that the doctor was not actually an employee of the hospital. The hospital argued that it could not be held liable because it only contracted with an agency, and it was the agency who actually employed the doctor. Despite these contentions, the hospital eventually settled the birth injury case.

Once the hospital settled, the doctor tried to get the medical malpractice case against himself dismissed, asserting res judicata. The doctor tried to use the settlement with the hospital as a way to block further recovery. However, because the doctor could not show that he was in privity with the hospital, the doctor could not rely upon this legal doctrine to get the case against him dismissed.

Click here for the court’s full opinion in McNamee v. Richard Sandore, & Assoc.