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Medical Malpractice Case Ends in Mistrial, Settlement

Vindy.com reported today on the end of a medical malpractice case which deadlocked a jury. Our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys understand that these cases are often very difficult to decide. This may not be because a medical professional did not act negligently, but because there may be limited evidence to prove the negligence. The burden of proof in all civil cases in on the plaintiff. This is just one of many hurdles that plaintiffs must jump through in seeking recovery and accountability following medical negligence.

The Case
The injured patient in this case was a video coordinator for Youngstown State University. The man died suddenly while working at the university. However, in the months leading up to his death the man complained repeatedly about chest pain. According to the medical malpractice lawsuit filed in the case the man visited his doctor–named as defendant in the suit–and told him about this pains. However, the doctor allegedly failed to obtain a complete medical history, did not order an electrocardiogram, and did not refer the man to a cardiologist.

Instead the doctor diagnosed the man with “rib cartilage inflammation.” That diagnosis was incorrect as the man was actually suffering from coronary-artery disease. However, because of the misdiagnosis the man did not receive proper treatment which might have saved his life.

For their part, the defendant claimed that the patient did not report his father’s coronary-artery disease or bypass surgery on a patient questionnaire. In addition, he claims that a normal heart rate and rhythm were found in a stethoscope check.

Our Illinois medical malpractice attorneys understand that a misdiagnosis by itself does not automatically mean that a doctor is guilty of malpractice. Instead, the causes of the misdiagnosis must be examined. In a medical malpractice trial
, the jury will be charged with evaluating whether a reasonable doctor in the same position and with the same information would have acted differently.

The Verdict
In this case, the jury was completely deadlocked. According to the report, after several hours of jury deliberations over two days last week the eight-person jury told the judge that they were evenly split. At first the judge told the jury that they needed to resume deliberations until the deadlock was broken. However, they returned again in the same position. At that point the judge declared a mistrial.

In general the mistrial would have meant that another trial would need to take place with a completely new jury. Yet, instead of having the new trials, both sides in the case were able to reach a settlement after the mistrial.

This sort of situation is not uncommon. Many settlements are reached well before trial. Many other cases are settled on the very eve of trial as both parties seek to avoid the time and expense of the process. Still others are settled in the middle of trial, before the jury is given the chance to deliberate. As this case demonstrates, the settlement can even come after a trial, while the jury is still deliberating or when a mistrial is reached.

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