Verdicts and Settlements

In my many years of legal work as an Illinois medical malpractice attorney, I've had the profound pleasure of helping the vast majority of my clients receive compensation for their injuries in trial verdicts or through negotiated settlements. Here are some notable cases. Please bear in mind that each case is unique and results may vary for a variety of reasons.

Cancer

Incomplete Surgery/CancerSettlement: $ 2,750,000
The client was a young boy who was born with a large, benign mass (sacrococcygeal teratoma) growing from the sacral area, near his tailbone. The mass was surgically removed when he was one day old, but not the tailbone. The standard of care for this rare medical condition would have required removal of the tailbone because the mass was likely to reoccur. The baby was sent home with no follow-up. Over the next 22 months, the child was seen repeated by his pediatrician for diarrhea, feeding problems, low weight gain, and pain. At 18 months of age the mass began to grow back. During the next 3 months, the child was repeatedly brought to the pediatrician or the neurosurgeon with no diagnosis being made, despite the child's reports of pain and black and blue marks appearing where the tumor was located. The child was finally referred to an orthopedic surgeon and underwent surgery to remove the recurrent tumor. Despite aggressive treatment and chemotherapy, with many complications, he required another surgery where more malignant tumor was found. The child did survive, but suffered moderately severe hearing loss due to therapy.

Pediatricians settled before trial, acknowledging they had no experience treating a patient for this illness, had not consulted an experienced physician, had not consulted medical texts, and thus knew nothing about treating his condition.

The neurosurgeon admitted liability the day of trial. The surgeon attempted to explain that the reason he did not remove the tailbone was because the child had a co-existing condition (myelomeningocele) that made it impossible. In the course of preparing for trial, physicians involved in the case testified that this was not only absolutely not true, it was a medical impossibility. It was also discovered that the surgeon had altered his medical records to indicate that he told the mother there was a possibility of malignancy.

Misdiagnosis of Breast CancerSettlement: $500,000
Our client discovered a lump in her breast. Her doctor ordered a mammogram. The mammogram report stated that the plaintiff had dense fibrocystic changes in both breasts and recommended "careful correlation ... to aid in exclusion of neoplasm." Our client said the doctor told her the mammogram was negative and she should be checked again in a year. The doctor said he recommended a biopsy, a follow-up exam, and a follow up mammogram. He claimed he talked about possibility of cancer. His office records, however, indicated he advised a recheck in three to six months and a mammogram in six to twelve months. When the lump continued to grow, the plaintiff consulted another physician. Despite another negative mammogram, that physician recommended a biopsy. The biopsy was positive for cancer. The plaintiff underwent a bilateral mastectomy and chemotherapy. Our lawsuit claimed that the initial doctor failed to recommend appropriate diagnostic procedures, improperly relied on the negative mammogram, and failed to recommend surgical consultations and follow up. This negligence allowed the cancer to advance to Stage II, which later spread to the spine.

Stroke

Stroke in Elderly PatientSettlement: $ 750,000
Our client did not receive proper treatment from her HMO physicians. She was seeing an internist for general medical care and an oncologist who was following her for breast cancer. The internist ordered blood tests and the tests revealed that she had serious kidney disease. He did nothing to follow up on these findings. In the meantime, the patient was also seeing the HMO oncologist, who shared the same medical chart as the internist. The oncologist noted that over a period of 2 years, the internist periodically ordered the same blood tests which showed the same kidney disease, but worsening, but did nothing about it. The oncologist also noted the worsening kidney function, but did nothing about it because "it was not my responsibility." In time, the patient's blood pressure became so elevated that the patient was a walking time bomb for a heart attack or stroke, known as a hypertensive emergency. Again, nothing was done. The HMO physicians attempted to supply "additional" medical records years later, on different medical forms which claimed that this elderly patient refused urgent care. The patient suffered a massive stroke several days after this last visit and spent the remaining years of her life with permanent brain injury and required a full-time caretaker. This case settled shortly after the oncologist gave her infamous "it was not my responsibility" testimony.

Birth Injury [Link to Birth Injury]

Cerebral PalsySettlement: $ 2,000,000
Our client was a child born with cerebral palsy. The lawsuit against the mother's obstetricians alleged that inappropriate management in the last weeks of her pregnancy resulted in a cord prolapse. The case settled after 2 weeks on trial for the defendants' insurance policy limits.
Cerebral PalsySettlement: $12,000,000
Our client was a child born with severe cerebral palsy. Our lawsuit alleged that the hospital's physicians did not follow standard medical practices in managing the pregnancy when the mother went significantly past the due date.
Cerebral PalsySettlement: $ 2,000,000
Our client was a child born with severe cerebral palsy. The obstetrician failed to diagnose intrauterine growth retardation when the mother was thirty-six weeks pregnant. If an ultrasound had been performed at thirty-six weeks, when it was apparent that the fundal height had not grown in three weeks, the growth retardation would have been diagnosed and the child would have been delivered without neurological impairment. The obstetrician's attorney argued that earlier delivery would not have made any difference. The case settled the day of trial for the defendant's insurance policy limits.
Cerebral PalsyPartial Settlement: $550,000
Our client was a child born with severe cerebral palsy. The mother was admitted to a "Level I" (the lowest level for perinatal care) hospital in premature labor with bleeding from placenta previa. Her obstetrician knew that the delivery would be high risk and the hospital she was at was not equipped in expertise or equipment to handle the delivery of baby that premature. The obstetrician attempted to transfer the pregnant mother to the Level III (the highest level for perinatal care) Center designated to receive these patients, but the physicians who took the obstetrician's phone call advised him that due to bad weather, they could not transport the mother and advised the obstetrician to perform an emergency cesarean section on the 30-week fetus. We charged that the advice given over the telephone by the perinatal center was wrong and that immediate delivery was not indicated; the mother and fetus could have been stabilized until the weather cleared allowing for helicopter transport.

Surgical Errors

Orthopedic SurgerySettlement: $600,000
Our elderly client underwent hip replacement surgery performed by an orthopedist. Investigation of the case revealed that the surgeon had been using out-dated surgical techniques and out-dated prosthetics. After placing the acetabular component, the surgeon prepared the femoral canal to receive a four-inch femoral prosthetic "nail." In preparing the patient's femur to receive the "nail," the surgeon cemented in the bone plug, mixed the cement that would hold the component in the femoral canal, and waited until the cement began to thicken. He then asked the nurses to give him the "standard/standard" component which was, for the first time, removed from the box. After placing the component, the surgeon discovering it extended two and one-half inches beyond the patient's femur. The prosthesis was the wrong size. Rather than remove the seven-inch "nail" and the cement before it hardened, the defendant directed staff to search for a four-inch component. There were no four-inch components in the hospital. The surgeon then attempted to remove the inserted component but the cement had hardened. With no experience in hip revision surgery, the surgeon attempted to remove the cement with a high-speed drill. This perforated the cortex of the bone, ultimately breaking the plaintiff's femur in two pieces, with multiple comminuted fracture fragments. The surgeon repaired the fracture by using the same seven-inch component he had originally inserted. The patient suffered from permanent non-union of femur, despite additional surgeries. The surgeon and the hospital both contributed to the settlement.
Nerve InjurySettlement: $400,000
Our client had a lymph node removed from her neck. The surgery was negligently performed, causing damage to a nerve that innervates the trapezius muscle. This led to a permanent disability and disfigurement.
Nerve InjurySettlement: $62,500

Our client had a pain shot administered by a nurse into his deltoid muscle. The needle damaged a nerve, causing "wrist drop" which resolved after 3 years.
Improper surgical clearanceSettlement: $320,000
Our client was scheduled to undergo a non-urgent surgery. Pre-operative testing raised questions about her cardiac fitness for the surgery. No follow up testing was done and the patient was not treated for the underlying condition, but was instead cleared for surgery. She suffered a heart attack and died in the course of the surgery, although the anesthesiologist attempted to write in the hospital chart that the patient died in the recovery room, instead of under her care in the operating room.
Failure to diagnose post-operative infectionSettlement: $375,000
Our client underwent hip replacement surgery and afterwards showed symptoms of a post-operative infection. The infection was not diagnosed and not treated, allowing it to spread throughout his body. Eventually it traveled to his heart valve and he was diagnosed with bacterial endocarditis. This was another case which settled shortly after a physician was forced to admit in testimony that the medical care given had been negligent.

Failure to Diagnose

Failure to DiagnoseVerdict: $1,000,000
Our client was the family of a patient who died during the trial from ovarian cancer. Several physicians failed to diagnose ovarian cancer in the ovary of a young woman who had a history of a prior ovarian tumor. A gynecologist removed the patient's left ovary, which was found to contain a teratoma. Following surgery, the gynecologist advised her to have periodic follow-up ultrasounds in case the tumor recurred. The plaintiff then switched her medical care to an HMO. She also started to complain of abdominal pain. She advised her new doctor and medical staff at her new clinic that she had a "benign tumor" removed and had been told she needed follow-up ultrasounds. Her new doctor told her ultrasounds were not necessary. She was seen at the clinic by three different people on three different occasions for her abdominal complaints and received three different diagnoses: gastritis, normal ovulatory pain, and urinary tract infection. We charged that the HMO physician had an obligation to read the medical records from her previous treatment. Defendants experts argued that the ultrasound and a cancer screening test were unnecessary and a waste of valuable medical resources. After a year, the plaintiff switched to another HMO because of her dissatisfaction with the clinic. The doctor at the new HMO ordered an ultrasound, followed by a CT scan, which revealed a tumor in her right ovary. A five pound tumor was removed and pathology showed that it was a malignant teratoma. The plaintiff, a 26-year-old single mother of a 4-year old son, died of cancer after jury selection. The lawsuit then became a wrongful death claim on behalf of the surviving child.

Drug Overdose/Medication Errors

Drug OverdoseSettlement: $ 2,750,000
Our client was a woman who suffered a drug overdose after an operation. The lawsuit was brought against a hospital for failure to monitor and failure to properly treat a medical condition. After surgery, our client accidentally overdosed on a patient-controlled morphine pump, causing severe respiratory distress and a comatose state. The patient was unresponsive and in critical condition when found by a nurse later that evening and the house physician was called. Orders for fluids, drugs, intubation, and ventilation were either not ordered on a timely basis, or not carried out on a timely basis. Several hours elapsed before necessary care was given. The data contained within the pump's computer, which would tell a physician exactly how much morphine the patient actually received, was never taken from the pump. No one from the hospital could account for what happened to the pump. It was never located, and thus never examined or tested. The sole source of information regarding the amount of morphine the patient received was from the nurse who was responsible for her care. She testified that, without witnesses, she discarded the unused morphine in a sink in violation of hospital policy and narcotic laws, and contrary to the medical records where she wrote "0" morphine wasted. Our client suffered acute hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, kidney failure, liver failure, and a myocardial infarction. She remained in the hospital for four weeks, transferred to an inpatient rehabilitation center, and later spent three months at an outpatient rehabilitation center. She continues to suffer significant short-term memory loss and psychological injuries.
Allergic ReactionSettlement: $135,000
Our client was allergic to sulfa, a particular ingredient in certain medications. When she was admitted to the hospital for a urinary tract infection, she told both the physicians and nurses about the allergy, when they asked if she was allergic to any drugs, and this was written in her chart. A resident then ordered a medication to treat her infection. She immediately broke out into blisters throughout her body, similar to second degree burns. Both the resident and the nurse who dispensed the medication claimed that they did not know that sulfa was an ingredient in the medication that was prescribed. The standard care for both doctors and nurses is that if you don't know what is in the medication, you cannot prescribe/administer the medication.

Wrongful Death

Wrongful DeathSettlement: $1,950,000
Our clients were the children of a man who died due to misdiagnosis of severe pancreatitis while in the care of a major university hospital. The patient was found dead in his bed by the morning nurse, although the medical records claimed that one hour earlier he was alert, talking and well. The lawsuit was settled 6 months after the case was filed.
Wrongful DeathSettlement: $499,000
Our client was the family of a man who died from negligent medical care from improper placement of a tracheostomy following coronary bypass surgery. The tracheostomy tube failed to function properly almost from the moment of insertion. The nurses reported problems with suctioning the patient and problems with an air leak around the trach tube opening at the neck. On the day after the tracheostomy, the problems continued and the nurses reported periodic increased heart rate, increased respiration, and other signs of decreased oxygenation. During one eight-hour period, the attending physician, a pulmonologist, was called six times. On the second day the patient worsened and tests showed that he was not getting enough oxygenation. The physician was called and he ordered the patient placed on a ventilator. Nurses asked another physician to check on the patient while he was seeing his own patient in the ICU. This physician adjusted the tube. The patient suffered a Code Blue several hours later during the night shift. The patient died from prolonged suffocation due to the tracheostomy tube becoming misplaced.

Emergency Room Errors

Our client was a 47-year old man who had chest pain at work and was brought to the emergency room by ambulance. Based on his age, weight, lifestyle, family history, and personal medical history he was at high risk for coronary artery disease. Instead of admitting the patient to the hospital to run tests to rule out coronary artery disease as a cause of his pain, the emergency room doctor told him he was suffering from "gas" and prescribed medication for indigestion. Four days later the patient suffered a massive heart attack. The heart attack was in the left ventricle of his heart, which is the main pumping chamber which pumps the oxygen rich blood out to the body. As a result of the heart attack, the patient suffered from congestive heart failure and became known as a "cardiac cripple."

Illinois medical malpractice attorney Marion Morawicz provides legal services to injured people throughout the Chicagoland area, including Cook, Lake, DeKalb, McHenry, Kane, Winnebago, Kendall and Will Counties, and cities of Chicago, Rockford, Waukegan, Palatine, Crystal Lake, Oak Brook, Bedford Park, Bolingbrook, Romeoville, Naperville, Aurora, Wheaton, Schaumburg, Elgin, Batavia, Barrington Hills, Lake Forest, Winnetka, Evanston, Arlington Heights, and Lincolnwood.