Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

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A recent study published in Pediatric Reseach documents the relationship between abnormal PCO2 and unfavorable outcomes in infants suffering from hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy.  The object of the study was to determine if hypocapnia could be correlated with adverse outcomes in infants with moderately severe to severe hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy.

The study utilized 234 instances of hypocapnia to determine if there was independent predictive value in data concerning abnormal PCO2 levels and abnormal outcomes for these children.  The studies authors determined that there is independent predictive value in the relationship between hypocapnia and adverse and unfavorable outcomes.

The authors of the study determined that future studies of normocapnia will be important in determining the extent of the relationship between abnormal PCO2 and adverse outcomes in infants with moderately severe to severe hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy.

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The Supreme Court of the United States has deferred action on a petition to hear a case involving a child who was brain injured at birth during labor and delivery at Evans Army Community Hospital in Colorado.  Critics of the Feres Doctrine hoped that the Supreme Court would use this opportunity to clarify and make fair the controversial doctrine.  The Feres Doctrine was articulated in Feres v. United States, 340 U.S. 135 (1950).  Justice Robert Jackson, writing for the court, wrote the opinion which held that the United States is not liable under the Federal Tort Claims Act for injuries that active members of the military experience due to the negligence of other active members of the military.

Isabella Ortiz was born in 2009.  Her mother was a Captain in the United States Air Force.  During the planned caesarian section delivery Capt. Ortiz was given a medication to which she had a known allergy.  As a result, her mother’s blood pressure dropped which caused Isabella to suffer hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy.   The lack of oxygen to her brain caused her to sustain brain damage.  As a result, she cannot walk on her own and needs assistance at school.

Her claim was originally filed in Federal Court in Colorado where it was dismissed because the court found that Isabella’s injuries flowed from conduct that was “incident” to military service.  The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals also denied the claim, applying the genesis test to the Feres Doctrine and ruling that Isabella’s injuries were directly related to her mother’s injuries making Feres directly applicable.

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The Illinois Appellate Court, First District has decided that when a plaintiff dies during medical malpractice litigation, even after the statute of limitations has run, the estate can add a wrongful death claim.  Previously, plaintiffs were faced with inconsistent statutes which made this scenario unclear.  In Lawler v The University of Chicago Medical Center Justice Delort, writing for the appellate court, resolved this conflict in favor of justice for the victims of medical malpractice.

The court found that since the defendants were on notice of the claim for medical negligence brought by Ms. Prusak before her untimely death that same complaint was not barred by the expiration of the statute of limitations or repose simply because her death claim did not accrue until after the expiration of the same because the original claim was filed within the statute.

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On May 12, 2011, Irma Sabanovic was on her way to pick up her boyfriend from his job as a DJ at the popular Chicago nightclub, Exit.  Somehow she became lost and wound up on Goose Island, an artificial island located in the Chicago River.  Goose Island is a heavy industrial area that is confusing to navigate.  Irma found her way onto W. Blackhawk Street.  While travelling westbound on Blackhawk her car left the road and plunged into the inky darkness of the North Branch of the Chicago River.  For nine days the Chicago Police searched for Irma, treating the case as a missing person’s investigation.  Eventually her body was discovered inside her upside down vehicle submerged in 12 feet of water at the bottom of the river off of the end of Blackhawk St.  Police canvassing the area were able to locate a closed circuit surveillance video that captured her vehicle driving off of the end of the road and into the river at 2:00 am on the morning of May 12, 2011.

Irma Sabanovic was a 25 year old fashion model who was studying theater at Wilbur Wright College.  She was a beautiful, sweet, fun-loving woman with a wickedly smart sense of humor.  Her family, unable to make sense of her needless and tragic death, hired Goldberg & Goldberg to investigate the circumstances and determine why there were no signs, barricades and warnings at the end of the road.  A wrongful death and survival lawsuit was filed at the end of May 2011 against the City of Chicago.

For years the City claimed that there were no warning signs at the end of the road, even though a similar tragic accident had occurred 17 years earlier on the opposite bank of the Chicago River.  After that accident, the City erected barricades on the West bank of the river but claimed to have done nothing on the East bank.  Or so we were told, until the City of Chicago discovered the proof of their own negligence in late 2015 when they “found” work orders which showed that stop signs and a dead end sign had been placed in 1993 and removed, for an unexplained reason, sometime thereafter.  It was also determined that a 2000 lb concrete Jersey Barrier had been placed on the road near the east bank of the river but that the barricade did not extend across the entire length of the roadway.  Had concrete barriers been deployed across the entirety of Blackhawk St. this tragedy would have certainly been avoided.

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In 2003 the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists(ACOG), along with the American Academy of Pediatrics, published Neonatal Encephalopathy and Cerebral Palsy: Defining the Pathogenesis and Pathophysiology (“NEACP”). This monograph became more commonly known as “the Green Book” and it has been roundly criticized as an attempt by its authors to use “junk science” to create hard an fast “essential” criteria to diffuse obstetrical malpractice claims against Ob/Gyns. In the more than 10 years since its publications its authors have backed off the allegedly essential nature of its core criteria and physicians have been forced to admit that factors like cord blood ph levels above 7.0 can still occur in births where the fetus experiences perinatal asphyxia that is the result of negligence.

Recently, ACOG published an update to the Green Book titled Neonatal Encephalopathy and Neurologic Outcome, Second Edition. This update changes some of the so-called “essential” criteria that expert witnesses have relied upon to defend causation in birth injury cases.

The update defines Neonatal Encephalopathy as a clinically defined syndrome of disturbed neurologic function in the earliest days of life in an infant born at or beyond 35 weeks of gestation, accompanied by early onset seizures and difficulty initiating and maintaining respiration and depression of fetal tone and reflexes. The update relaxes the criteria which obstetricians and pediatricians feel demonstrate the likelihood of peripartum or intrapartum ischemia playing a role in the pathogenesis of neonatal encephalopathy.

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On February 6, 2013, the Chicago law firm of Goldberg & Goldberg filed a wrongful death case on behalf of the Estate of Genevieve Klimczak who died on February 12, 2012. Ms. Klimczak was a resident of McHenry Villa, a self described “retirement community” offering 24 hour a day security…”so residents can leave the worries of living alone behind them.” McHenry Villa and Home Instead, Inc. have been named as defendants in the lawsuit. McHenry Villa is located at 3516 W. Waukegan Road in McHenry, Illinois.

On February 12, 2012, Genevieve Klimczak a 91 year old resident of McHenry Villa with Alzheimer’s disease was allowed to elope from her room at McHenry Villa and walk out of the building through a self-locking door that could not be opened from the outside. Ms. Klimczak’s body was found the next morning by employees of McHenry Villa. The temperature overnight was as low as 7 degrees Fahrenheit. At the time, Ms Klimczak was being attended by caregivers from Home Instead, Inc. Ms. Klimczak is survived by her nephews, Donald Lorenz and John Lorenz, and her niece, Evelyn Marthalar.. Mrs. Klimczak was a lifelong resident of Chicago.

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Abbott Laboratories best selling drug, Humira, has been linked to a host of serious side effects, including severe neurological injuries. Abbott’s is on track to sell $15 billion worth of the drug per year by 2015. Abbott already expects to sell close to $10 billion worth of Humira in 2012. Humira is used to treat a variety of rheumatological conditions, including, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Ankylosing Spondylitis as well as Crohn’s disease.

In 2009, Abbott included the following warning in the package insert for Humira under section 5.5 titled, Neurologic Reactions:

“Use of TNF blocking agents, including HUMIRA, has been associated with rare cases of new onset or exacerbation of clinical symptoms and/or radiographic evidence of demyelinating disease. Prescribers should exercise caution in considering the use of HUMIRA in patients with preexisting or recent-onset central nervous system demyelinating disorders.”

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This blog entry comes courtesy of the President of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association and was published in the February 24, 2011 edition of the Belleville News Democrat:

It is once again time to set the record straight with your editorial board. There was never a health care crisis in this state and there were no “jackpot justice conditions” that caused doctors to flee Illinois.

Your editorial board and the president of the Illinois State Medical Society (ISMS) have chosen to ignore important facts when it comes to medical care access in this state. Over the years, we have consistently increased the number of physicians in our state. That’s right. The American Medical Association data reflects increases for each of the last 45 years. Clearly not a climate of doctors leaving Illinois or retiring early.

Funny how it used to be, for years, ISMS would falsely claim doctors were fleeing our state and that we already had a shortage of doctors because of fabricated “jackpot justice conditions.” As the data has failed to support that claim, the dialogue now shifts to an attempt to create a “future crisis”. In fact, a recent survey – funded in part by ISMS – clearly demonstrated oversaturation of physicians in the largest populated area of our state. That’s correct – more than enough doctors in the greater Chicagoland area.

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The following blog entry comes courtesy of a guest blogger, Stacy H. Federico, who has a blog devoted to raising awareness of Type II Diabetes and the benefits of healthy eating. We would like to thank her for her contribution to our blog.

Taking 10,000 steps every day (or walking about five miles) is incredibly useful to you.

I started walking 30 days ago. I wake up every day at 5:30 and walk about 5 mls (with my dog).

I had been so happy with myself. Recently a buddy told me, “What are you currently doing for exercise today?” I informed her about the walking, and she said, “Yeah, but what exactly are you doing for exercise?”

She declared that walking does not get the heart rate up sufficiently and won’t do one thing to enhance my overall health or my waist line and that if I needed to lose any weight, I needed a true workout.

Well , I informed her the 10,000 steps philosophy isn’t new…the good news is the 10,000 steps regimen has additionally been linked with an increase in insulin sensitivity in over 50 adults.

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The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (DRA) overhauled Medicare’s perspective on payment for medical care related to “never events” including a list of delineated hospital acquired conditions. Hospitals will no longer receive reimbursement for conditions that are (a) high cost or high volume or both, (b) result in the assignment of a case to a DRG that has a higher payment when present as a secondary diagnosis, and (c) could reasonably have been prevented through the application of evidence-based guidelines. The ten categories for hospital acquired conditions are: Foreign Object Retained After Surgery,.Air Embolism,,Blood Incompatibility, Stage III and IV Pressure Ulcers, Falls and Trauma including, Fractures, Dislocations, Intracranial Injuries, Crushing Injuries, Burns and Electric Shock, Manifestations of Poor Glycemic Control including, Diabetic Ketoacidosis, Nonketotic Hyperosmolar Coma, Hypoglycemic Coma, Secondary Diabetes with Ketoacidosis and Secondary Diabetes with Hyperosmolarity, Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infection, Vascular Catheter-Associated Infection, Surgical Site Infection Following Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG) – Mediastinitis, Bariatric Surgery, Laparoscopic Gastric Bypass, Gastroenterostomy, Laparoscopic Gastric Restrictive Surgery, Orthopedic Procedures and Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)/Pulmonary Embolism (PE).

While the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have prohibited hospitals from recovering payment for the treatment of secondary conditions acquired in the hospital, practically, these charges are often submitted and paid by Medicare long before and attorney becomes involved and makes a claim for medical malpractice. Careful examination of the supporting documentation Medicare provides at the time they require reimbursement often reveals that benefits were paid for hospital acquired events.

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