Articles Posted in Verdicts and Settlements

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Our attorneys are always saddened to hear of tragic loss of young people in our community. It is all too often that young people are entrusted in the care of others, and even though these people or entities are aware they owe a legal duty to care for these young people, they breach that legal duty with negligence or disregard for the young person’s safety, resulting in wrongful death.

In 2008, according to a recent article by the Chicago Tribune, a young man member of the community and Oswego High School student, died after he suffered an asthma attack and collapsed in his English class. He was rushed to the emergency room, but unfortunately did not regain his breath and had no pulse. According to the hospital autopsy, the cause of death was bronchial asthma. Being only months from high school graduation, his mother then had to bury her son with the money she had set aside for his graduation party and college tuition.

Several months later, the victim’s mother filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Oswego-based District 308 and the teacher who was instructing the class at the time of her son’s collapse. In the lawsuit, the victim’s family argued that the district and teacher failed to get quick and appropriate medical care after he suffered an asthma attack, which resulted in his death. Both the district and the teacher denied these allegations. While the teacher was eventually dropped from the lawsuit, just this last month this case went to trial. After four days of deliberation, the jury found that the school district “acted with utter indifference or conscious disregard for the safety” of the victim.
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Our readers may typically think of worksite accidents as happening on construction sites where employees are building and operating machinery. However, keep in mind that worksite accidents can happen anywhere, especially where employees must operate machinery and safety precautions have not been put in place.

According to recent news by WHBF-TV, a Carroll County, Illinois jury awarded a verdict of $16 million to the families of two teens who were killed in a fatal grain bin accident. The accident occurred in July 2010 in Mount Carroll, Illinois. Two teen boys had been working inside the grain bin when it collapsed and trapped them and an attempted rescuer inside. Both of the teen boys suffocated from being trapped.

The trial lasted approximately two and a half weeks and each of the victims’ families were awarded $8 million. The attempted rescuer, who suffered injuries from the accident, was awarded $875,000. The defendant grain bin company was fined over $2 million for this incident and went out of business in 2011.

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Our attorneys believe that all medical professionals ought to use the utmost care and professionalism when caring for patients. No amount of negligence is acceptable, because these actions can lead to serious personal injuries or even deaths of patients. What makes medical malpractice deaths especially tragic is that oftentimes these losses could have been prevented had a medical professional used the amount of diligence required in the profession. But for this negligence, family members could have their loved ones healthy and alive by their sides.

According to recent news by the Chicago Sun-Times, a patient fell from a gurney while being transported to an ambulance in 2009. As a result of this fall, the patient hit her head on pavement and died several days later from her fall. It was determined that she fell because the gurney was being pushed by one paramedic instead of two.

According to the report, this was a direct violation of required standards of the Chicago Fire Department whose policy states that ambulance gurneys must be pushed by two paramedics in order to guarantee stability. At the time of this accident, only one paramedic was pushing the gurney . Had two paramedics been pushing the gurney, as policy requires, the victim could have still been alive and with her family today.

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The ABA Journal recently reported on a girl who was awarded a $32 million settlement in a medical malpractice case over quadruple limb amputations. The lawsuit was brought against the University of Chicago Medical Center. As a result of this verdict and settlement, this 11-year-old girl will finally be able to live in a fully handicapped accessible home, and she will now be provided with special wheelchairs and prosthetics. The settlement will also help pay a personal assistant for the rest of the girl’s life.

The lawsuit arose after what seemed to be a minor school knee injury led to sepsis, gangrene, and quadruple amputations of her limbs. The suit alleged that the hospital delayed in over 24 hours to treat the girl with antibiotics after she was admitted to the hospital. This failure led to septic shock, cardiac arrest and organ failure.

After these injuries, the girl had to enroll in special gym and swim classes for amputees. Her mother also had to quit her job as an assistant pharmacy manager in order to take care of her daughter and help her heal.

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Medical malpractice is a type of legal negligence which occurs when patients are injured or killed by the careless or intentional acts of healthcare providers. In medical malpractice lawsuits, it is argued that had the healthcare provider not failed to act or acted in a negligent way, an individual would not have suffered serious injuries or died. In that way, a healthcare provider can be liable for the wrongful death of another.

This past November, a Cook County circuit court awarded $15.5 million to a man whose wife died in childbirth to the medical negligence of two doctors, according to the Chicago Sun Times. The victim’s husband brought a lawsuit against the University of Chicago Hospital, for the severe medical negligence that occurred in 2008.

According to reports, the Chicago jury deliberated under six hours’ time and handed down the third highest verdict for wrongful death in a medical malpractice case in Cook County history. The lawsuit alleged that one of the medical specialists had failed to correctly read an ultrasound two months before the victim was due that should have shown that her placenta was growing through the uterine wall. Had they acted correctly and professionally, this woman’s life could have been saved, and her husband could still have her with him and their children.

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Medical malpractice is a type of professional negligence where a health professional has acted to cause bodily injury or has failed to act where the professional should have, resulting in a medical error not up to the standard of care. According to Medical News Today, in the early 2000s alone, an average of 195,000 people died annually due to medical errors.

According to KFVS 12, six years following an incident of medical malpractice, a Williamson County, Illinois, jury awarded $2.4 million to the surviving family of a 47-year-old woman who died as a result of a preventable medical error at a Carbondale hospital.

Our lawyers and the families we serve understand that monetary compensation can in no way replace an individual who has died, nor can an individual’s life actually be measured in dollars. However, where there is no remedy at law to compensate someone (such as times where a life and loved one has been lost), a court must do so monetarily. Furthermore, not only does this compensation help the families of those who have died with their financial hardships such as medical bills and funeral expenses, but medical malpractice actions also set a legal example. Verdicts, such as this one, bring attention to the epidemic of preventable medical errors in hospitals, clinics, and doctors’ offices throughout Illinois. When a medical malpractice suit reaches a verdict of a large sum, the entire medical and legal communities see these figures as a reality that medical malpractice is an extremely serious matter and wrongdoers will be held responsible for their actions. Such an example can work as a preventative method to encourage medical caution and deter future incidents and future loss of lives and loved ones.

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The Chicago Tribune reports that the Chicago City Council voted last seek to pay over $5.4 million as a settlement of three lawsuits, two of which involved alleged Chicago Police misconduct. The largest settlement, of $4.1 million, involved the family of a Flint, Illinois farmer who was shot three times on the back by a Chicago Police Officer while he was unarmed and already wounded. Another settled case involved a young 13-year-old who was handcuffed and detained against his will by Chicago Police officers who demanded information about the young boy’s neighbors. He was awarded $145,000 by the City Council. The officers involved in the case were members of the now disbanded Special Operations Section of the CPD, or SOS. According to the article, many SOS officers were convicted of terrorizing numerous Chicago residents by invading their homes, performing illegal searches, and other illegal police tactics that they used to pocket thousands of dollars in cash for their own benefit.

Finally, the last was a $1.2 million Chicago accident lawsuit for a beer truck driver who was injured when his vehicle was rear-ended by a Chicago Fire Department truck in 2003 at Lincoln and California in Chicago. The driver underwent two back surgeries and continues to suffer from back pain. Through last November the city had paid out nearly $40 million in settlement of police abuse cases. In this year alone, the city has already spent over $38 million to settle such cases.

The City of Chicago employees have a duty to act properly under their scope of duty. Cases of police brutality and misconduct in Chicago should never be tolerated and when victims take action it sends a message to all City employees to refrain from these types of actions. While it can be intimidating to stand up against the city of Chicago, it is your right as a citizen to speak out when you have been injured by one of its employees. It is helpful to think of the City like any other large corporation that has many employees. When the employees of a large corporation act negligently, the corporation can be held accountable for their actions. It is the same for the city of Chicago. Settlements like these are important because they prove that the citizens of Chicago have a right to be heard and their legal rights always hold up in a court of law.

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In an excellent example of how lawsuits can positively affect social change, the northwest Chicago suburb of Arlington Heights is changing the way it plows its parking lots and other public areas after it settled a slip and fall lawsuit filed by a woman injured when she slipped on public property in 2010, reports the Chicago Tribune. In the past, the city workers were instructed to place an equal amount of snow into each of the four corners that they are clearing, making more parking spaces available to use. The new rules force the workers to plow snow into only three corners and avoid plowing in areas where there are stairs.

The injured Arlington Heights resident sued the city in 2010 when she slipped in a parking garage due to an unnatural accumulation of ice near the stairwell of the lot. The city approved a $49,500 settlement for the couple in December, 2012. The woman fractured her leg when she fell and called out to her husband. When he came to her aid, he also slipped and fell. Several other people slipped and fell in the same spot, according to the couple. While the city denied all liability and insisted that the accumulation of ice was natural and not the result of negligence on their part, they have now decided to change the way that they plow public spaces to prevent future accidents like this.

This lawsuit provides a great example of just how important litigation can be in positively affecting social change. Plaintiff based litigation is important to ensure that negligent and dangerous behavior by companies, cities, municipalities and other powerful organizations does not continue to negatively impact individuals. Everyone has a right to take a stand against negligent, reckless or dangerous behavior. In this case, the city of Arlington Heights was acting negligently in the way that they removed their snow. The lawsuit filed by these brave citizens helped to change the way that the city plowed their snow, and will hopefully prevent other citizens from experiencing painful personal injuries in the future. Perhaps other cities in the Chicago area will see this lawsuit and reevaluate their snow removal techniques.

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A Chicago personal injury lawyer from our firm recently read about an Illinois railroad welder was awarded a $1.05 million dollar verdict against Union Pacific Railroad when his twenty-year career came to a screeching halt due to injuries sustained while working for the railroad company. The plaintiff was injured in January 2010 while he was working in Springfield, Illinois, lifting heavy equipment. He was not provided with adequate and safe equipment or a welder’s helper. Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that the railroad failed to provide him with a truck with a working mechanical lifting device, causing him to sustain injuries to his back and spine. He was later diagnosed with herniated lumbar disks and nerve root impingement and required surgery to correct his back problems. These injuries ended his career with Union Pacific and he was then rejected from 99 percent of all jobs that he applied for, seriously diminishing his earning capacity.

The trial lasted eight days and the jurors deliberated for eight hours prior to returning with the $1.05 millions dollar verdict for the plaintiff. The lawsuit was brought under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act, an act designed to protect and compensate injured railroad workers. As long as the injured worker can prove that the railroad was at least partially negligent in causing the injury, the worker can recover for that negligence. Our Chicago personal injury attorneys know that every employee has a right to a safe workplace, no matter their profession.

While the railroad industry has its own piece of protective workers’ rights legislation, all employees have the right to keep their employers honest and trustworthy through workers compensation’ laws. When you are injured on the job, you have the right to file a workers compensation claim. Per the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission’s website, workers’ compensation is a no-fault system of benefits paid by employers to workers that are injured while on the job. These injuries include physical injuries as well as diseases. Like railroad workers, all Illinois workers are protected by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act.

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Recently, our Chicago nursing home attorneys settled a lawsuit with Evergreen Healthcare Center in Evergreen Park for $575,000. Attorneys Steven M. Levin, Margaret P. Battersby Black and Carl F. Silverman worked on behalf of the granddaughter of the victim who sustained injuries while living at the nursing home. The victim developed several bed sores that worsened d and eventually contributed to her death. The lawsuit we filed on behalf of the victim alleged that Evergreen Healthcare staff failed to properly prevent, monitor and treat the victim’s bed sores, and these injuries contributed to her tragic death. Her family now has closure and can begin to heal after this horrific ordeal.

In February 2007, the then 77-year-old victim suffered a stroke and was admitted to a Chicago hospital. She was later transferred to the Evergreen Park nursing home for rehabilitation where the staff noted that she was at high risk for bed sores due to her immobility. The victim’s family noted that when they would visit, they could smell that she had not been changed, was never turned over, and on one occasion they even noticed that her feeding tube was loose. In fact, the only persons who ever noticed her bed sores were her family members, not the staff whose job it is to provide care for her. In fact, the victim developed bed sores on her heels and sacrum. Our senior partner and co-founder, Steven Levin noted that, “[o]n each occasion, it was her family, not the nursing staff, who discovered the new sores. Her sores worsened and her overall condition deteriorated. She was hospitalized two months later and diagnosed with sepsis, dehydration and pneumonia.” Tragically, the victim died in May 2007 from these injures.

The facility’s staff was obligated to prevent the victim from developing pressure ulcers and was required to frequently reposition her and closely monitor her skin condition. However, our investigation revealed inconsistencies in her charts and a failure to properly assess the progress of her bed sores. Our office filed a complaint in December 2008 in the Circuit Court of Cook County and the case was settled last month.