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Trials & Verdicts, Medical Malpractice Cases

Brandon & Schmidt, a Southern Illinois insurance defense firm, has successfully represented primary defendants in a wide variety of medical malpractice cases. Following are examples of some of the cases our firm has successfully tried to verdict.

2003. Jackson County. The widow of a middle-aged man, who died as a result of a massive saddle embolus, sued a Carbondale internist. The husband had been hospitalized for an extended period of time, and claimed that indications of small pulmonary infarctions were not recognized before the massive embolism occurred. The doctor claimed that this was an unexpected and unpredictable complication. Defense verdict.

2003. Williamson County. The family of an elderly decedent, who had a sudden idiosyncratic reaction to IV dye that extravasated while the doctor performed a cystogram, sued a Marion urologist. The family claimed that the urethra was punctured while inserting a catheter and that a different type of dye should have been used. The urologist claimed that, unbeknownst to him, others had injured the urethra while attempting to catheterize the patient and that the dye the urologist used was appropriate for this procedure. Defense verdict.

2006. Marion County. A young woman, who claimed she had unexpected complications following placement of breast implants, sued a Centralia surgeon. An infection developed, which did not respond to a couple of debridement procedures, and the implant had to be removed for a couple of months and then replaced once the infection had resolved. The defendant physician contended that such infections are known complications and that it did not result from negligence and that the condition was, eventually, successfully treated. Defense verdict.

2007. Williamson County. The husband of a young woman, who died of a massive pulmonary embolism (PE), sued a Marion internist. The woman had sought the physician’s care a couple of weeks before her death for non-specific complaints that were diagnosed as bronchitis. She had been placed on birth control pills shortly before, which the plaintiff claimed increased the risk for PE and thus should have been included in the differential diagnosis. The internist contended that the patient’s gross obesity (four hundred pounds), young age, and lack of suggestive symptoms made PE an unlikely diagnosis. Defense verdict. Affirmed on Appeal

2007. Marion County. A plaintiff, suing on behalf of a little girl who suffered Erb’s palsy shortly after her birth, sued a Centralia obstetrician. The plaintiff claimed the child had shoulder dystocia at birth and that the obstetrician applied excess lateral traction causing the injury. The defendant claimed that there was no indication of a shoulder dystocia and that the injury could have occurred in utero or at the time of birth, but not from any negligence on the doctor’s part. The little girl had significant impairment in one arm and had undergone a surgical procedure to help restore some function. Defense verdict.

2007. Jackson County. Two Carbondale pediatricians and a nurse practitioner were sued following the death of a three-year-old girl as a result of a pneumococcal infection. The child had come under the care of the nurse practitioner when she was just over two years of age. The plaintiff claimed the defendants were negligent for not administering a new vaccine called Prevnar, which had just become available. Parties did not dispute that Prenvar would have, more likely than not, prevented the infection. The defendants contended, however, that Prevnar was in short supply and the CDC guidelines in effect at that time did not recommend giving Prevnar to a child of two to three years of age. The plaintiff did not retain a nursing expert, and after four days of trial the court granted defense motions, which resulted in the dismissal of the case based upon the lack of competent testimony against the nurse and on the lack of involvement of the physicians in her care. Directed verdict after several days of trial. Affirmed, September 2009

2008. Jackson County. A Carbondale radiologist was sued for improperly administering an upper GI using barium contrast material. The patient, unbeknownst to the radiologist, had a fistula connecting the pericardial sac and the esophagus–an extraordinarily rare condition. The dye entered the pericardial sac, urgent surgery was performed, and the patient died shortly thereafter due to sepsis. Since the patient had undergone a colonic interposition years before, which was known to the radiologist, the plaintiff claimed that a more thorough work-up was warranted before using the barium dye. The defendant countered that barium was a safe material, contamination already existed in the pericardial sac, and that he simply revealed the problem but did not cause the problem. Defense verdict.

2008. Jackson County. The adult children of an elderly lady, who died a month after a lumbar laminectomy, sued a local neurosurgeon. The patient had persistent drainage, which the plaintiff contended should have prompted a more aggressive work-up for a dural leak. The surgeon contended that post-operative drainage is not unexpected, and thus, the surgeon did not have a reason to initially suspect a leak. When the patient was eventually returned to surgery, a dural leak was discovered and repaired, but the patient developed meningitis a few days later and died. Defense verdict.

2009. Williamson County. Wrongful death action brought on behalf of the estate of a 37 year old woman who died in her sleep. She had been under the care of a pain management clinic and was using various narcotic and CNS depressants medications. Three months before her death she began having unexplained black out spells, for which a work up was in progress but not cause determined. Plaintiff claimed she should have been hospitalized for further evaluation in a protected environment. Defendants claimed she was appropriately worked up, that the medications were not the cause of death, and that her untimely death was completely unexpected. Five experts, in addition to two defendant physicians, testified in a trial lasting nearly three weeks. Defense verdict.

2010. Jefferson County. Wrongful death action brought on behalf of the estate of a 53 year old man who died twenty four hours after being discharged from a three day hospital admission. The patient was diagnosed as having suffered a thrombus that spontaneously reperfused. Plaintiff claimed he actually had coronary artery spasm, called Prinzmetal’s variant angina, and should have been discharged on additional medications. Defendant contended that his death was unexpected and unavoidable due to a possible recurrent thrombus or arrhythemia. After one hour of deliberations the jury returned with its verdict. Defense verdict.

2010. Williamson County. Plaintiff was a middle aged man who claimed that an adult circumcision had caused him harm and he was not longer able to have relations with his wife. Plaintiff claimed that excess skin had been removed. Following the procedure he sought the services of another surgeon located in Kentucky who performed five grafting procedures, all of which eventually failed. The defense claimed that the second surgeon was actually responsible for the poor outcome, but he was not a party to the suit. Defense verdict.

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