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Case Law Update: Jury instructions in Medical Malpractice (2-9-09)

Tabe v. Ausman, No. 1-07-0703 (2-9-09) is an Illinois decision that found that the trial court erred when it granted plaintiff a new trial after jury returned medical malpractice verdict in favor of all defendants. Because there was adequate testimony for jury to conclude that defendants did not breach standard of care when they relied on neuroradiologist report, which did not show any compression of the spinal cord after laminectomy, when deciding not to perform nerve decompression procedure, and because plaintiff did not tender any special interrogatories to the jury, any error associated with giving the long form proximate cause instruction could not be grounds for new trial. Further, there was no error in giving long form IPI 12.04, because there was evidence that sole proximate cause was the failure of the absent neuroradiologist to report decompression. This case will have a profound effect on medical malpractice cases.