As reported in the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, our attorneys at Levin & Perconti have successfully negotiated a $2 million settlement for the family of a thirty-three year-old woman who died in 2010 at Our Lady of the Resurrection Medical Center in Chicago. This is just one of many successful cases handled by the firm for families who have lost loved ones.
In this case, Lisa Rivera was an insulin-dependent diabetic. She went to the hospital because she was experiencing shortness of breath. She was diagnosed with having fluid around her lungs, and the hospital did a procedure to treat that problem. After the procedure, Ms. Rivera suffered persistent pain, for which the hospital medicated her. Her doctor also ordered that she be given a long-acting form of insulin. She had a reaction to the medication and stopped breathing. The hospital revived her but she wound up in intensive care.
The lawsuit was in part over nursing staff’s failure to document a diet change order for Rivera when she was not eating food by mouth. Failing to document the change in diet meant she received too much insulin. Her blood-sugar levels dropped as a result, and she went into a diabetic coma. She did not survive. The suit also alleged that a doctor’s failure to review Ms. Rivera’s chart and catch the problem contributed to her death. The hospital’s defense was that Ms. Rivera was receiving regular dialysis due to kidney failure and that her life expectancy was short anyway. Regarding what happened in this case, John J. Perconti, one of Ms. Rivera’s family’s lawyers, said, “There was a total lack of communication between the nurses and [the doctor], which led to this hypoglycemic episode.”
This suit was ultimately settled through a process called mediation. Mediation is a way of settling disputes between two parties without having to go through a full trial. Mediation is defined by the Center for Conflict Resolution. Each side is represented by an attorney, and then a trained neutral third party acts as a “mediator,” that is, a neutral party who tries to help both sides reach some sort of agreement. This is one form of alternative dispute resolution aimed at helping both sides of a dispute see where the other side is coming from. It is different from arbitration. While arbitration is similar in that is happens before a trial, and there is a neutral third party involved, in arbitration that neutral third party actually makes a decision in the case. That means that in an arbitration case, the case is decided without the parties agreeing, whereas in a mediation case, both parties have to agree to the settlement terms.
While no amount of money can ever bring a loved one back, we at Levin & Perconti are thrilled to have been able to help Ms. Rivera’s family receive some compensation for their loss.