Every once in a while, we report on verdicts from other jurisdictions. The following Chicago trial verdict was obtained by Kenneth Chessick, M.D., J.D.,who described his verdict on one of the American Association for Justice listservsas follows:
“On Friday, a Cook County jury deliberated 2.5 hours after a two week trial, and they awarded $3,662,221 to the father, mother, and five brothers and sisters of an African-American two year old boy, who died during a fatal two hour fifteen minute ordeal at the ER at Advocate Trinity Hospital in Chicago. The hospital was the sole defendant, and the case was tried under the legal principle of Res Ipsa Loquitur. The baby was brought at the ER to treat his first and only grand mal seizure by his EMT mother and Paramedic father. After control of his seizures, the baby was transported to x-ray for a CT Scan. The portable EKG, blood pressure, and pulse oximeter he was on negligently ceased to function, nobody noticed his hypoventilation. A dead baby, which nobody noted was dead, was returned to the ER. His cardiac arrest likely existed for greater than an estimated five minutes, and when identified, he was unable to be resuscitated.
The plaintiffs’ experts were Frank BakerMD (ER medicine), Laura Rytbicki, RN (ER peds nursing), and Ronald Gabriel MD (peds neurology), all outstanding, well-prepared, and articulate. No Survival Count since the baby was unconscious. The defense experts were Roger Barkin MD(arrogant ER guru), and John RatkoRN (ER nursing). The arrogant Dr. Barkin charged the defendant hospital $75,000 for his time, more than twice that of all five other experts, a fact we readily exposed. We had a smart, well-educated, extremely fair, even-handed judge who presided over a fair trial.
My young associate Jasna Davis was nothing less than spectacular as she presented four witnesses and was a great assistant. Watching this brilliant young attorney develop her formidable skills was great fun for me. Jasna did all of this while four months pregnant.
The American Civil Justice system, which provides to resolve disputes in an arena where wealthy and powerful are treated the same as the ordinary individual, regardless of race, gender, or national origin, remains our last bastion of democracy and is, in my opinion, responsible for the USA’s being the best and most productive nation in the history of the planet, remains strong and healthy, despite the frequent, well-financial, and perfidious attacks on it. I am extremely proud to be a trial lawyer in our brilliant Civil Justice System. Justice was served on Friday.
Our flame of justice burns a little brighter today.”
Of note is that the case went to the jury on a legal theory of “res ipsa loquitor” (Latin for “the thing speaks for itself”). In Maryland, submission of a case on pure res ipsa grounds is not permitted in medical negligence cases, although experts may testify that the injury would not have occurred in the absence of negligence, even though the exact cause of injury may be unknown.It appears, in light of the number of experts involved for the plaintiffs, thatthe Chicago casewas not a pure res ipsa case, where the jury may infer negligence without expert testimony simply from the happening of an event, i.e., that it would not have happened absent negligence. We congratulate Mr. Chessick on a job well done!
Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz is a plaintiffs’ personal injury law firm with offices across the state. Please visit out website or contact our attorneys should you wish to discuss your personal injury case.