|News and Events|
October 2013Jacqueline Sharuzi Featured in The Top Women Attorney's of Illinois
Jacqueline Sharuzi has been featured in “The Top Women Attorneys in Illinois,” as jointly presented by Thomson Reuters and Chicago Magazine in that publication’s October 2013 issue. Honorees include female attorneys from the 2013 Illinois “Super Lawyers” and “Super Lawyers Rising Stars” lists, and encompass outstanding lawyers in more than 70 areas of practice. Candidates selected for “The Top Women Attorneys in Illinois” honor are peer-nominated, evaluated by 12 indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement, and are peer evaluated and selected by practice area and size of firm.
HPS Associate Elected Vice President of the Young Professionals Board for the Center for Disability and Elder Law (CDEL)
Bill Souferis of Hall, Prangle & Schoonveld, LLC was recently elected Vice President of the Young Professionals Board for the Center for Disability and Elder Law (CDEL). Mr. Souferis began as a volunteer for CDEL while in law school and provided over 150 hours of services to individuals of the elderly and disabled population in need of legal assistance. Since being hired as an associate at Hall, Prangle & Schoonveld, Mr. Souferis continued to stay involved with CDEL and became a member of the Young Professionals Board. As Vice President, Mr. Souferis not only serves on the Board's Executive Committee, but is also the Chairperson for the Board's Fall Event Committee as well as the Publicity Committee. To learn more about CDEL and their outstanding services, please visit www.cdelaw.org.
Four from HPS Named as Southern Nevada's Best!
Congratulations to Partners Mike Prangle, Ken Webster, Ben Patterson and John Bemis who were all recently recognized as being among Southern Nevada's Top Lawyers. Since opening its Las Vegas office in 2003, HPS has become one of Clark County's premier litigation defense firm. In that time,we have won nearly two dozen trials and saved our clients over $80 million dollars in potential verdicts in wrongful death and catastrophic loss cases.
HPS Victorious in 2013 Life Time Tri Chicago
On Sunday, August 25th, 13 Hall Prangle and Schoonveld attorneys and staff members were among the nearly 9,000 participants in the Life Time Tri Chicago. Touted as one of the largest triathlons in the world, the early morning event was an opportunity for the firm to show off its skills outside the courtroom. “Although we are one of the premier trial litigation firms in Chicago, we also pride ourselves on being a well-rounded firm,” notes Senior Trial Attorney David Hall. Entering four relay teams and one individual competitor Hall Prangle and Schoonveld made a strong showing with HPS Team #2, composed of Partners Ben Patterson and TC Hosna and Senior Associate Tom Comstock, taking home first place in the relay division with a 14:59 minute swim, 39:26 minute bike and 20:12 minute run. Following close behind, HPS Team #1 composed of Partners David Reed, Mike Prangle and Ro Maharaj placed 5th, followed by HPS Team #4 with staff members Dan Campione, Meriellen Johnson and Rita Ayers, placing 7th. HPS Team #3 consisting of Associate Elizabeth Neidig and staff members Mona Gava and Marcia Braden placed 18th overall in the relay field of 21. Additionally, Paralegal Laura Arendsen placed 142nd out of a field of 237 in the Woman's 25-29 division the sprint race. Mike Prangle, who pedaled the second leg for HPS Team #1 summed up the experience this way: “This event was a team effort by the entire firm to bring this event together. We are extremely proud of the sportsmanship, talent and encouragement exhibited by everyone at HPS and we are excited that these kinds of events are part of a rich HPS tradition.”
Standing L to R:
Michael Prangle, T.C. Hosna, Marcia Braden, Benjamin Patterson, Dan Campione & Tom Comstock
Mona Gava, Rita Ayers, Elizabeth Nedig & Ronitha Maharaj
Laura Arendsent & Meriellen Johnson
|Sprint Relay Division Winners: Tom Comstock, T.C. Hosna & Benjamin Patterson|
Congratulations to Hugh Griffin and the Entire HPS Appellate Team
Partner Hugh Griffin, recipient of the 2012 Illinois Appellate Lawyer of the Year, and the HPS Appellate team have had an unprecedented series of recent victories. In March, Hugh was succesful arguing before the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals for the affirmation of a $7 million reduction in damages in an aviation case. June found Hugh succesfully arguing before the First District of the Illinois Appeallate Court to uphold a $12 Million breach of contract award from the Chancery Court. Later that month, Hugh obtained reversal of a $20 million wrongful death award in a case that had originally been tried in 2006. This was soon followed by another victory in the Illinois FIrst District upholding the reversal of a $150,000 default judgment entered against a local physician.
HPS Sponsors the Alexian Brothers Foundation Golf Outing
HPS sponsored and participated in the Alexian Brothers Foundation’s 13th Annual Alexian Brothers Center for Mental Health Chip-In Golf Outing. The event, which raised money for the Alexian Brothers Center for Mental Health, was held at Makray Memorial Golf Club, in Barrington, IL. To learn more about the Alexian Brothers Foundation visit http://www.alexianbrothershealth.org/foundation
HPS golfers included (L to R): Michael Prangle, Anna Loftus, Brenna Mulholland, and Bill Souferis
HPS Successfully Defends Assault Claim
Anna Loftus successfully defended Hartgrove Hospital against a claim that its security officer assaulted the plaintiff in the facility’s parking lot by holding a gun to his head and threatening his life. Given the recent thefts on the property and the fact that the plaintiff was acting suspiciously, the security officer was doing his job when he questioned the plaintiff’s reason for being on the property. The jury found the plaintiff’s armed assault claim lacked credibility, given his initial complaints to the hospital and the police shortly after the incident were that the security officer was rude and disrespectful. Instead, the jury found credible the testimony of the security officer, a retired Chicago police officer of 20 years, who was allowed by law to carry a concealed weapon but testified he did not need to draw his weapon to handle the situation in the parking lot. The jury deliberated for 25 minutes before finding in favor of Hartgrove Hospital and denying plaintiff’s damages claim for PTSD, depression and anxiety.
HPS Obtains Defense Verdict In Death of an Premature Infant
Partner David Hall and associate Tom Comstock obtained a defense verdict on behalf of
HPS Sponsors Chicago Volunteer Legal Services (CVLS) Event
HPS was a sponsor for CVLS' Second Annual "Law and Disorder" award ceremony and fundraiser held on April 18, 2013. CVLS is an organization of over 3,000 volunteer attorneys who donate free legal services to thousands of low-income Chicagoans annually. Volunteers wishing to ensure equal access to justice can go to http://www.cvls.org for more information.
Pictured at the event (L to R): Ana Cazacu, Bill Souferis, Anna Loftus and Krista Luzio.
HPS Successfully Defend Infectious Disease Specialist
Partners David Hall and Kate Vrabel obtained a defense verdict in favor of an infectious disease specialist related to plaintiff's allegations that he should have insured the patient did not resume taking Allopurinol, a gout medication, following discharge from the hospital. After discharge, the patient developed a full-body desquamating skin condition known as toxic epidermal necrolysis, overwhelming sepsis and died after unsuccessful treatment in the burn unit. Defense argued the defendant’s role was to determine whether the patient’s condition was from an infection and that specialists not consulted by the primary service had expertise in diagnosing a drug reaction. Plaintiff asked the jury for $25 Million.
Defense victory for HPS in Las Vegas, Nevada
Partners Mike Prangle and Ken Webster successfully defended a Las Vegas hospital and its nursing staff against claims that a plaintiff suffered a severe neurologic injury and quadraparesis as a result of sodium and potassium overcorrection in a patient with hyponatremia. Plaintiff alleged that following his admission, physicians corrected his serum sodium level at a rate more than double the nationally accepted standard over a twenty-four hour period, allegedly resulting in central pontine myelinolysis. Plaintiff further alleged that during this time period, the nursing staff failed to notify the physicians of critical sodium values during the night shift and failed to perform a critical morning lab draw. The defense argued that Plaintiff’s sodium was corrected at an appropriate rate given his medically complex presentation at the Emergency Room. The defense also contested the cause of Plaintiff’s central pontine myelinolysis was not the sodium correction, but rather Plaintiff’s past history of chronic alcohol abuse, as well as other current co-associated factors. Plaintiff asked the jury for a combined total of $26.8 million in damages. After just over three hours of deliberation, the jury returned a unanimous verdict for the defense.
HPS congratulates Anna M. Loftus, Theodore C. Hosna and John Bemis on becoming its newest partners.
Anna Loftus focuses her practice on the defense of physicians, hospitals and other care providers against medical negligence claims. After graduating from the University of Michigan with a degree in political science, Anna attended Loyola University Chicago School of Law. Prior to joining HPS, she clerked for Judge Michael Gallagher of the Illinois Appellate Court, 1st District, and she was an associate at Peterson and Ross.
T.C. Hosna has broad litigation experience with a primary focus on defending medical negligence claims against hospitals, physicians, nurses and nursing homes. Mr. Hosna also has successfully defended matters involving general negligence and premises liability claims. Since joining the firm in 2004, Mr. Hosna has first chaired and co-chaired numerous high-exposure cases to verdict, saving his clients millions of dollars of requested damages. Please refer to the News & Events section of the website to read more about some of Mr. Hosna's trial victories.
John Bemis concentrates his practice in the defense of hospitals, medical professionals and other health care providers against medical negligence claims. In Addition, John defends medical products liability, premises liability and negligent security cases for our clients. In 2013, John was nominated as one of the "2013 Mountain States Rising Stars" by Super Lawyers. John graduated, with honors, from University of Nebraska at Omaha with a degree in computer science. Thereafter, John graduated from University of Nebraska School of Law.
HPS Successful Against Allegations of Stage IV pressure ulcer
Partner Mike Prangle and associate Bret Jessee successfully defended against a survival action regarding a Stage IV pressure ulcer described as grossly gangrenous, fluctuant, with surrounding cellulitis. Plaintiff alleged that the wound was not properly described or documented by the nurses, that it became a deeper Stage III or IV sometime prior to the physician seeing it and also that the wound never would have occurred in the first place had Plaintiffs' nurses been properly turning and repositiong her every 2 hours.
Defendants conceded that the nurses did not document a full description of the pressure ulcer (measurement, color, drainage) in compliance with hospital policies, but contended that the sore was an unpreventable ulcer that was a consequence of the plaintiff's decedent being near the end of her natural life and, once it developed, was untreatable due to the decedent's multiple and complex co-morbid conditions that made it impossible for her body to heal.
HPS Obtains Defense Verdict for a Utah Neurosurgeon and Hospital
Partner Eric Schoonveld and associate Shelley Doi-Taketa successfully defended a Utah neurosurgeon and hospital against claims that a 48-year-old plaintiff suffered from a DVT after the neurosurgeon performed an anterior lumbar interbody fusion procedure (ALIF).
The defense demonstrated that the neurosurgeon skillfully and successfully performed the ALIF, including properly positioning the lumbar fusion plate during the procedure. The defense established through the medical records and evidence that the neurosurgeon timely diagnosed the DVT, and that contrary testimony from plaintiff and his family members was inaccurate. The defense further established that the majority of plaintiff’s alleged injuries were wholly unrelated to the DVT, and that contrary to plaintiff’s own testimony, he continued to receive a substantial income ($12,000 per month) from a previous business venture. Plaintiff asked the jury for $8.2 million in economic and non-economic damages. After just over three hours of deliberation, the jury returned a no-cause verdict for the defense.
Partner David Hall and Associate Melissa McDonagh Obtain Defense Verdict for Suburban Hospital
Partner David Hall and associate Melissa McDonagh successfully defended a suburban hospital convenient care and its employed physician against claims that the physician failed to properly work up a 38-year-old patient for a pulmonary embolism. The patient, who was married with two young daughters, died five days following the convenient care visit.
Plaintiff argued that the patient’s fractured leg and use of a wheelchair increased his risk of developing a deep vein thrombus. Plaintiff also contended that the patient had a three day history of shortness of breath warranting a referral to the hospital for a CT scan to rule out a pulmonary embolism.
Defense demonstrated that the patient’s presenting complaint of sinus pressure with an associated cough, his history of asthma and his recent history of shortness of breath, were consistent with a diagnosis of bronchitis and sinusitis. Defense further maintained that the autopsy established that the patient died from an acute saddle pulmonary embolism rather than a series of showering pulmonary emboli as alleged by Plaintiff.
Plaintiff’s attorney asked the jury for a combined verdict in excess of 17 million in damages. The jury deliberated about an hour before rendering a defense verdict.
Jacqueline Sharuzi nominated as one of the 2012's Top 40 Under Forty Attorneys in Illinois.
We are proud to announce and would like to congratulate Jacqueline Sharuzi for being selected in this year's 40 under Forty Attorneys to Watch. Out of approximately 1,300 nominees across the state, Jacqueline was one of the 40 Attorneys selected. Please click on this link to see Jacqueline's profile which appeared in the supplemental edition to the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin and Chicago Lawyer.
Congratulations Jacqueline on this great accomplishment!
Hall Prangle & Schoonveld (HPS) Marks Its 10th Year of Distinguished Service and Successful Partnerships
Hall Prangle & Schoonveld (HPS) marked its 10th year of distinguished service and successful partnerships. Founded in August of 2002 with an office in Chicago and 12 attorneys, HPS has grown to include offices in Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, and Tampa. Our team of dedicated and skilled lawyers now numbers 40 and has appeared as counsel in multiple states across the country. In our first decade, HPS has taken over 130 cases to verdict and handled over 80 appeals. It’s been an amazing 10 years. We’re excited for the next decade and beyond.
Partners David Adams and Camille Khodadad presenting at Aviation Seminar
HPS is pleased to announce that partners David J. Adams and Camille Khodadad have been selected to speak at the 57th annual Corporate Aviation Safety Seminar (CASS) in San Antonio on April 18-19, 2012. This prestigious national event is sponsored by the Flight Safety Foundation (FSF) and the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA). The two-day seminar will showcase the aviation industry’s top leaders and “hot topics” in aviation, including Mr. Adams and Ms. Khodadad’s presentation entitled, “Judicial Action in the Aftermath of Aviation Accidents: A Global Perspective”.
Their presentation will offer a unique comparison of historical and current post aviation accident investigation and subsequent criminal
Partner Mike Prangle and Associate Anna Loftus Successfully Defend Illinois Neurosurgeon
Partner Mike Prangle and associate Anna Loftus successfully defended an Illinois neurosurgeon against claims that the 38-year-old plaintiff suffered from left leg radiculopathy as a result of a misplaced fusion cage during a lumbar fusion. Despite pain developing three months after the surgery, plaintiff urged that the left fusion cage was negligently placed 100% outside of the disk space during surgery causing nerve root compression. Despite the fact that surgery to remove the fusion cage performed shortly before trial reportedly resulted in the relief of plaintiff's radicular pain, the defense established at trial that the leg pain was a result of progressive foraminal stenosis. After seven days of evidence, the jury returned a unanimous verdict for the defense in less than 90 minutes.
HPS Congratulates Hugh C. Griffin on Being Named a Top 100 Super Lawyer for 2012
HPS congratulates Hugh C. Griffin on being selected one of the Top 100 Illinois Super Lawyers for 2012. Each year Super Lawyers magazine names attorneys in each state who receive the highest point totals, as chosen by their peers, and through independent research. Super Lawyers rates outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The 100 attorneys with the highest point totals from all practice areas are given special recognition. HPS congratulates Hugh on this esteemed recognition and achievement.
HPS congratulates Mike M. Tarpey on becoming its newest equity partner.
Mike Tarpey is a trial lawyer, specializing in the defense of catastrophic product liability and medical negligence claims. Mike's clients include leading truck and auto manufacturers, industrial equipment manufacturers, leading hardware corporations and top university hospitals in the Chicago metropolitan area. For the past 20 years, Mike has been considered by his clients as a "go to" guy for trial resulting in many successful defense verdicts in a wide variety of areas, including but not limited to, product liability, medical malpractice, construction, breach of contract, insurance coverage, railroad and the FELA and transportation. Mike has also handled multiple mediations and arbitrations as well as arguments before the First District Appellate Court of Illinois and the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
HPS congratulates Kate H. Vrabel and Michael Koptik on becoming its newest partners.
Kate Vrabel concentrates her practice of law in the defense of hospitals, physicians and other healthcare professionals in medical malpractice, general negligence, and premises liability actions in Illinois and Nevada. Due to HPS' involvement in the national market, Kate has tried to verdict numerous high-exposure medical malpractice cases as first-chair or co-chair in the Chicago metropolitan area and Las Vegas.
Michael Koptik has a wide range of litigation experience in the medical malpractice defense field. During law school, Mike served as the legal assistant to the Medical Litigation Division of the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, where he assisted in every phase of trial work and specialized in drafting significant motions and appellate briefs in the First District Appellate Court. He later served as an Assistant State's Attorney representing county-owned hospitals and clinics. Since joining HPS, Mike has successfully second-chaired numerous trials in both Chicago and Nevada and helped negotiate favorable settlements in matters ranging from permanent disability to wrongful death.
HPS Secures a Defense Verdict for a Utah Hospital in an Admitted Liability Case
Partners Eric Schoonveld and Tawni Anderson successfully defended a Utah Hospital against claims that the 20-year-old plaintiff suffered a hypoxic brain injury and debilitating thoracic outlet syndrome after receiving a single dose of epinephrine by the wrong route (the dose was administered IV instead of subcutaneously). Plaintiff was admitted for four days and worked up extensively to evaluate her complaints following the incident. The hospital stipulated that it had breached the standard of care by giving the epinephrine by the wrong route, but denied that the misrouting caused the damages alleged by the plaintiff.
During the 2-week jury trial, plaintiff argued that the epinephrine caused a heart attack and a reduction of oxygen to her brain causing hypoxic brain injury. She also argued that immediately after the epinephrine was injected she experienced a tetanic contraction of her entire back and neck, thereby causing thoracic outlet syndrome and severe chronic pain. She claimed that the brain injury and chronic pain would prevent her from ever completing a college degree or working again and explained the numerous "bad decisions" that she made since the incident.
The defense argued that epinephrine actually increased blood flow to the brain, continuous monitoring showed that the plaintiff never experienced any episodes of hypoxia and multiple brain imaging studies were negative thereby ruling out a hypoxic brain injury. The defense established that the medical records did not show a new injury or "thoracic outlet syndrome," but that plaintiff was complaining of the same back and neck complaints that she had been treating for over 5 years prior to the incident at issue. Regarding her alleged cognitive impairments and other psychological problems, the defense presented plaintiff's extensive preexisting history of treatment for severe anxiety and depression that had caused her disabling pain complaints and required treatment with narcotics, anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications. Furthermore, the many powerful narcotic and other psychotropic medications she was taking explained all of her complaints of fatigue and cognitive impairments.
Interestingly, plaintiff's experts claimed that plaintiff was "agoraphobic" and too ill to even appear at trial, yet plaintiff's prior boyfriend testified that she was able to date, snowboard, shop, drive, go to bars, concerts and even rap on stage with a local band.
Plaintiff asked the jury for $5.7 million in economic and non-economic damages. After three hours of deliberations, the jury returned a unanimous verdict for the defense.
Partner Jacqueline Sharuzi Elected to the American Board of Trial Advocates
HPS is pleased to announce that partner Jacqueline Sharuzi has been elected to the American Board of Trial Advocates (www.abota.org). ABOTA is a national organization of trial lawyers (plaintiffs and defense) formed for the purpose of fostering improvement in the ethical and technical standards of practice in the field of advocacy.
Partner David Hall Recognized for Trial Lawyer Excellence Defense Career Achievement by the Jury Verdict Reporter
After reviewing available trial results over it's 50 years of operation the highly regarded Jury Verdict Reporter recently recognized David Hall as one of the top six defense trial attorneys in Cook County. JVR Award
HPS Congratulates Hugh C. Griffin On Being Named the Best Lawyers' 2012 Chicago Appellate Lawyer of the Year
Best Lawyers magazine, a peer-reviewed publication, recently named HPS attorney Hugh C. Griffin as the "Chicago Best Lawyers Appellate Lawyer of the Year" for 2012. Only one lawyer in each specialty of law in each community is honored as the "Lawyer of the Year." In order to determine the "Lawyer of the Year" in each specialty of law, Best Lawyers conducts extensive peer-review surveys in which thousands of leading lawyers evaluate their professional peers. The attorneys honored as "Lawyers of the Year" have earned a high level of respect among their peers for their abilities, professionalism and integrity. HPS proudly congratulates Hugh C. Griffin on being selected as the "Chicago Best Lawyers Appellate Lawyer of the Year for 2012."
Partner Jennifer Ries-Buntain Elected to the American Board of Trial Advocates
HPS is pleased to announce that partner Jennifer Ries-Buntain has been elected to the American Board of Trial Advocates (www.abota.org). ABOTA is a national organization of trial lawyers (plaintiffs and defense) formed for the purpose of fostering improvement in the ethical and technical standards of practice in the field of advocacy. Membership is by nomination of the local chapter, and Illinois' chapter includes many of the top trial attorneys in the city of Chicago. Nominated by a co-defense counsel who is on the board of the local chapter, Jennifer was determined by the board to be a trial lawyer who is of high personal character and honorable reputation and who met ABOTA's particular qualifications for trial experience. Prior to Jennifer's nomination, there were only three women in the Illinois chapter, and she becomes the first HPS attorney to be elected.
Patterson and Walkup secure Not Guilty in decubitus ulcer case
Partners Ben Patterson and April Walkup successfully defended allegations that Hospital staff failed to adequately turn and reposition a critically ill ICU patient resulting in a large Stage IV sacral pressure sore. The patient required extensive rehabilitation and debridement procedures and was left with a scar that still breaks down from time to time . The patient’s daughter, a nurse and former Hospital employee, was critical of her mother’s nursing care. Ben and April convinced the jury that the plaintiff's critical illness was the cause of the sacral ulcer, that it was medically unavoidable, and that the nurses provided excellent care as evidenced by exemplary charting demonstrating continual monitoring of the plaintiff's skin status and constant turning and repositioning.
HPS Wins its First Defense Jury Verdict in Florida
Partner Ben Patterson and associate Bret Jessee obtained a defense verdict for a Hospital in lawsuit alleging failure to adequately monitor an emergency room patient resulting in the death of 38-year-old father of two children. According to the autopsy the patient died from cardiac tamponade. Plaintiff’s experts opined that the patient would have gradually deteriorated and the nurses did not adequately monitor him before he was found unresponsive. At trial, Ben Patterson and Bret Jessee had to overcome a “missing evidence” jury instruction (regarding “missing” cardiac rhythm strips in the 75 minutes before the patient was found) and criticisms of the nurses from the treating doctors who were former codefendants. Plaintiff asked for an amount in excess of $5 million in damages but the jury returned a defense verdict.
HPS Successfully Defends OB-GYN in Birth Injury Case Alleging Mismanagement of Pitocin
David Hall and Tom Comstock have successfully defended an OB-GYN against allegations that the physician was negligent in the management of Pitocin during the course of the mother's labor, resulting in hyperstimulation of the uterus and a subsequent uterine rupture. The baby was born via emergency C-section and was later diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
Plaintiff argued that at the time Pitocin was administered to augment the mother's labor she was already experiencing an adequate contraction pattern. Plaintiff further argued that the physician was negligent when he failed to place an intrauterine pressure catheter before the administration of Pitocin and that if he had placed the catheter, the strength of the contractions would have been such that the use of Pitocin was contraindicated.
The defense successfully argued that the administration of Pitocin was appropriate to augment the mother's labor because she was having difficulty with the urge to push and that it was not contraindicated at any time during her labor. Further, the defense successfully argued that the modest amount of Pitocin administered to the mother over a relatively short period of time could not have caused an unscarred uterus to rupture as the plaintiff contended.
Plaintiff's attorney asked the jury for approximately 8.5 million in damages. The jury deliberated for approximately 9 hours before rendering a defense verdict.
Up and Coming HPS Trial Team Win for Hospital on First Day of Trial With Blend of Creative Motion Practice and Trial Advocacy
Partner Jacqueline Sharuzi and associate T.C. Hosna won summary judgment on the first day of trial in a case involving the death of woman from a pneumothorax following a routine bronchoscopy at Rush Oak Park Hospital. After obtaining summary judgment as to the vicarious liability allegations, the case went to trial on institutional negligence claims against the hospital for the conduct of its nursing staff. The defense asserted plaintiff’s experts were not properly qualified to criticize the nursing staff and that plaintiff had failed to causally link up his case. The combination of a well-written brief and a compelling oral argument persuaded the court to dismiss the plaintiff’s case prior to selecting the jury. Plaintiff’s pre-trial demand was $1.5 million.
HPS Defeats Claim of Hypoxic Brain Injury in Pediatric ICU
Partners Mike Prangle and Ken Webster successfully defended Sunrise Hospital in Las Vegas against allegations that a pediatric patient suffered a hypoxic-ischemic brain injury following a frank airway hemorrhage, arrest and 8 minutes of asystole. Prior to his admission to Sunrise Hospital, Plaintiff was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia several weeks after birth. The patient underwent several rounds of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. To prevent rejection of the transplant, the patient was placed on high dose immunosuppressant therapy. At approximately 2 years of age, the patient developed an Acyclovir-resistant varicella (chicken pox) superinfection. The patient was admitted to the PICU to manage his illness, his immunosuppressed condition and his worsening respiratory condition. Plaintiffs argued the nursing staff and respiratory therapists failed to administer scheduled medications and to initiate the chain of command in order to protect the patient's airway by forcing the pediatric intensivists to intubate the patient. Plaintiffs argued that the patient's respiratory distress continually worsened until the patient coded early on Christmas morning resulting in a prolonged resuscitation and alleged hypoxic-ischemic brain injury. Plaintiffs asked the jury to award damages in excess of $25 million, and the trial judge allowed Plaintiffs to argue punitive damages to the jury.
Although prepared to do so, Sunrise Hospital did not present any witnesses in defense of the allegations. The Hospital was able to present its case through treating physicians and co-defendant pediatric intensivists during Plaintiffs' case-in-chief. After approximately 3 hours of deliberations, the jury returned a unanimous defense verdict.
HPS Successful Against Allegations of Failure to Diagnose Pulmonary Embolism
Mike Prangle and Jackie Sharuzi obtained a defense verdict in Cook County, Illinois on behalf of an emergency room physician in a case involving the death of a 60 year old male from pulmonary embolism after being admitted to the hospital for a cardiac related work-up. Plaintiff argued that the ER doctor should have ordered a diagnostic test to rule out pulmonary embolism or started heparin prophylactically before admitting the patient. The patient presented with syncope, shortness of breath on exertion, palpitations, and diaphoresis on exertion. Upon admission, the patient was seen by a cardiologist and his primary care physician who both agreed with the ER doctor's provisional diagnosis of a cardiac related problem.
The defense argued that pulmonary embolism is a notoriously difficult condition to diagnose, especially as here, when plaintiff had no significant risk factors and his presenting signs and symptoms were non-specific. The defense also argued that admitting the patient for further work up was well within the standard of care because an emergency room physician is not required to reach an ultimate diagnosis.
Plaintiffs asked the jury for approximately 5.5 million and they returned a defense verdict after less than a full day of deliberations.
HPS Prevails Against Allegations of Failure to Prevent a Major Stroke
Ben Patterson and Bret Jessee successfully defended a family practice physician and medical group in Will County in a case involving a stroke in a 22-year-old caused by a rare heart infection: bacterial endocarditis. In the months prior to the stroke the plaintiff visited his FP doctor complaining of flu-like symptoms, fevers, chills and night sweats. Plaintiff claimed the defendant doctor should have ordered blood cultures weeks earlier than he ultimately did. Once cultures were ordered they returned positive for strep bacteria and the patient was instructed to go to the hospital for IV antibiotics. The following afternoon, while still hospitalized, the plaintiff suffered a severe stroke resulting in permanent disability: paralysis and cognitive disabilities. Plaintiff asked the jury for in excess of $10 million in damages. The defense, through a carefully constructed timeline and the testimony of five treating physicians, established that the plaintiff had only nonspecific symptoms and that the defendant doctor, despite a missing progress note during the critical time period, conscientiously worked up the correct diagnosis. The jury deliberated for 9 1/2 hours before rendering a unanimous defense verdict.
HPS Defense Verdict in ER Wrongful Death Case
Ben Patterson and Tim Shanley obtained a defense verdict in Will County, Illinois in a case involving the alleged failure to timely diagnose and treat PE in the ER resulting in the death of a 34-year-old mother of two. Plaintiff contended that the defendant ER physician negligently delayed obtaining a CT scan and starting Heparin. Plaintiff's expert maintained that earlier Heparin would have prevented the death. The defense countered that the ER physician timely evaluated the patient, ordered appropriate blood tests and diagnostic studies to rule out PE and timely instituted Heparin. A CT scan was obtained within two hours of the patient's admission and revealed extensive bilateral PE and Heparin was started one hour later. Despite receiving Heparin the patient arrested and died within an hour of receiving Heparin. The patient was survived by two minor children (ages 14 and 11) and her husband. Plaintiff's pre-trial demand was $3 million. During closing arguments plaintiff's counsel asked the jury for $6.2 million. No settlement offer was ever made. The jury returned a defense verdict in 25 minutes.
HPS Congratulates Hugh C. Griffin on Being Named a Top 100 Super Lawyer for 2011
HPS congratulates Hugh C. Griffin on being selected one of the Top 100 Illinois Super Lawyers for 2011. Each year Super Lawyers magazine names attorneys in each state who receive the highest point totals, as chosen by their peers, and through independent research. Super Lawyers rates outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The 100 attorneys with the highest point totals from all practice areas are given special recognition. HPS congratulates Hugh on this esteemed recognition and achievement.
HPS Prevails Against Allegations That "False Assurances" and Insufficient Equipment Led to Amputation
Ben Patterson and Mike Koptik successfully defended Sunrise Hospital in Las Vegas against allegations that the facility had insufficient equipment and that nurses gave "false assurances" to staff surgeons resulting in the eventual below the knee amputation of a 50 year old woman's left leg. Plaintiff alleged that after she began throwing clots during a spinal surgery, the hospital failed to provide proper imaging equipment to allow her vascular surgeon to locate thrombi in her lower left leg. The orthopedic surgeon and vascular surgeon both testified that they terminated the surgery based upon nursing assurances that they would have access to the facility's angiography suite in order to perform further diagnostic studies, only to be told that the suite was occupied upon bringing the patient to the recovery room. Plaintiff's retained vascular surgery expert also maintains privileges at the facility and claimed the hospital had an unwritten policy to silence physicians who were critical of the hospital/
The defense argued that both surgeons were lying in order to cover up their own role in the unfortunate outcome. They showed that the hospital had sufficient state of the art equipment to perform any imaging studies required by the surgeons during the procedure and that the angiography suite was actually available at the time in question. This case was originally tried by Mr. Patterson and Mr. Koptik in 2006, but remanded for retrial after a 6-2 defense verdict. In the re-trial, the jury's verdict was unanimous for the defense.
The Persistence of HPS Results In Transfer Of Case From Cook to McHenry County
Hugh Griffin and Anna Loftus were successful in petitioning the Illinois Supreme Court to direct the First District Appellate Court to hear an appeal of the Circuit Court’s denial of a forum non conveniens motion requesting transfer of a wrongful death case from Cook County to McHenry County. Upon review, the First District reversed the Circuit Court’s decision, finding that the Court gave undue weight to the fact that the defendant hospital was a resident of Cook County because it operated two non-involved facilities in Cook County. The First District also noted that plaintiff’s decision to litigate the case in McHenry County for over two years before refiling the case in Cook County was evidence that she inappropriately engaged in forum shopping.
HPS Helps To Successfully Defend Evenflo, Inc. In Product Liability Action
Eric Schoonveld, serving as local counsel, successfully assisted in defending Evenflo, Inc. in a product liability case alleging that a child safety seat was negligently designed. Plaintiff's ten month old son died from head injuries sustained in a car accident. Plaintiff alleged that the car safety seat was negligently designed and unreasonably dangerous. The defense established that the car seat was well designed and exceeded all applicable federal motor safety standards. The defense attacked the design of plaintiff's proposed alternatives and argued that the fatal injuries were caused by the severe forces that occurred during the car accident. The defense won a directed verdict on plaintiff's negligence allegations and the jury returned a defense verdict finding that the car seat was not unreasonably dangerous and was not the proximate cause of plaintiff's injuries. Plaintiff asked the jury for $6-8 million in damages.
HPS Congratulates Hugh C. Griffin On Being Named the Best Lawyers' 2011 Chicago Appellate Lawyer of the Year
Best Lawyers magazine, a peer-reviewed publication, recently named HPS attorney Hugh C. Griffin as the "Chicago Best Lawyers Appellate Lawyer of the Year" for 2011. Only one lawyer in each specialty of law in each community is honored as the "Lawyer of the Year." In order to determine the "Lawyer of the Year" in each specialty of law, Best Lawyers conducts extensive peer-review surveys in which thousands of leading lawyers evaluate their professional peers. The attorneys honored as "Lawyers of the Year" have earned a high level of respect among their peers for their abilities, professionalism and integrity. HPS proudly congratulates Hugh C. Griffin on being selected as the "Chicago Best Lawyers Appellate Lawyer of the Year for 2011."
HPS Appellate Group Obtains Reversal of $20 Million Verdict Because Trial Judge Failed To Grant Substitution Motion
Hugh Griffin and Stevie Starnes were successful with other defendants in obtaining a reversal and a new trial in a case arising out of an accident between a car carrying three teenagers (all killed) and a truck on U.S. 30 near Valparaiso Indiana. The jury had returned wrongful death verdicts in excess of $20 million. The case involved numerous significant appeal issues, but the Appellate Court, in reversing and ordering a new trial, considered only one issue, i.e., the trial judge's failure to grant a defense motion for substitution of judge as of right under 735 ILCS 5/2-1001. The judge had originally granted the substitution motion filed by one of the trucking company defendants, but vacated that order pursuant to the parties' agreement that the defendant who made that motion was the same company as another defendant that had previously filed a substitution motion. However, even before the trial court made its ruling, the defense filed a substitution motion on behalf of another defendant who had not yet filed such a motion. The trial judge denied that motion on the ground that it had already made a ruling on a substantial issue when it set aside its prior substitution order. On appeal, plaintiffs urged that even if the trial judge was wrong in denying the substitution motion, the error should result in a new trial only for the one defendant making the motion and not for all the other defendants in the case. While other Appellate Court decisions were not consistent on this issue, the First District Appellate Court ruled that all parties have standing to challenge the erroneous denial of an substitution motion made by one defendant and that the trial court's error in denying the motion entitled all defendants to a new trial.
HPS Appellate Group Successful In Obtaining Outright Reversal Of Attorney Malpractice Verdict
Hugh Griffin and Stevie Starnes were successful in obtaining an outright reversal on behalf of an immigration attorney who had been found liable in the trial court for emotional distress damages claimed by a former client who had been held in INS detention for many months after the attorney had unsuccessfully attempted to obtain his release on bond. The court held that under Illinois law an attorney sued for legal malpractice is not liable for nonpecuniary injuries such as emotional distress. The concurring appellate justice agreed and would have reversed the judgment against the attorney on additional grounds including the plaintiff's failure to prove his causation theory against the attorney.
HPS Attorneys Prevail As Trial Court Reconsiders – Transfers Malpractice Case To Kane County
Hugh Griffin and Anna Loftus were successful in having a Cook County Circuit Court Judge reconsider her ruling that had denied the defendants' Motion to Transfer a wrongful death case from Cook County to Kane County under the Doctrine of Intrastate Forum Non Conveniens. The court acknowledged that her prior ruling had erroneously given too much weight to the Cook County residence of other physicians (not involved in the decedent's care) who were members of the defendant doctors' group.
HPS Attorneys Negate $1 Million Jury Award on the Jury's Answer to the Special Interrogatory
Hugh C. Griffin, Omar J. Fayez and associate Krista D. Luzio successfully achieved the entry of judgment in favor of Lee Manor Nursing Home and against the Plaintiffs on the jury's negative answer to a special interrogatory, determined by the court to be fatally inconsistent with the jury's $1 million award.
The case involved a resident of Lee Manor with limited mobility who apparently ejected himself out of an 8 inch opening of his 5th floor bedroom window and fell to his death on April 21, 2004. The Jury returned a general verdict for $1 million against Lee Manor, but also answered in the negative the special interrogatory asking whether it was reasonably foreseeable to Lee Manor that the Plaintiff would commit suicide or act in a self-destructive manner. The Court agreed with Lee Manor that the special interrogatory was conclusive on the issue of legal cause and the Jury's answer of "no" controlled the verdict.
HPS Appellate Practice Group Successfully Defends Dismissal On Limitations Grounds
The Nevada Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal of Domnitz v. MountainView Hospital, No. 54055, finding that plaintiff's medical malpractice claim was barred by the statute of limitations. Plaintiff claimed that he entered the hospital for a "routine appendectomy" and awoke from the surgery to find that he had undergone a tracheotomy which resulted in complications that required a month long hospitalization and over a year of rehabilitation. Partner Kenneth Webster and Associate Kate Vrabel successfully argued before the trial court that plaintiff's complaint, filed almost two-years after his surgery, was barred by the one-year statute of limitations because plaintiff was on inquiry notice of his possible cause of action when he awoke from surgery with life-threatening complications.
Plaintiff appealed the dismissal, claiming that the statute did not begin to run until after such time as he decided to ask an expert to review his medical records and that physician subsequently rendered medical advice that plaintiff's injuries resulted from the negligence of one or more defendants. Jake Goldstein and Hugh Griffin drafted the response arguing that even if his serious complications were insufficient to place plaintiff on inquiry notice of his possible cause of action, the statute certainly began to run when plaintiff hired counsel and requested and obtained a copy of his medical records. The Nevada Supreme Court agreed with MountainView that contrary to plaintiff’s claim on appeal, he knew or should have known of his possible cause of action more than a year prior to the filing of his complaint.
HPS Announces Opening of Tampa, Florida Office
HPS is pleased to announce the opening of our newest office in Tampa, Florida. The Tampa office is headed by partners Ben Patterson and David Ferrainolo. HPS looks forward to providing its Florida clients with the same exceptional service and trial-ready defense teams that have become its signature.
HPS would also like to congratulate partners Ben Patterson and David Ferrainolo and associates Bret Jessee and Melissa McDonagh for passing the Florida bar examination.
HPS Successful in Vegas Against Allegations Plaintiff Contracted Hepatitis C During Hospital Admission
Partner Mike Prangle and Associate Kate Vrabel successfully defended Spring Valley Hospital in Las Vegas against allegations that the Plaintiff contracted Hepatitis C during a 5-day admission in 2006. Plaintiff's treating physician and renowned gastroenterologist alleged Hospital staff broke sterile protocol and exposed Plaintiff to the virus. Plaintiff underwent 48 weeks of Interferon therapy and was left permanently disabled, at the age of 49, as a result of an autoimmune disease which developed from the therapy. Plaintiff asked the jury for over $3 million.
The defense argued that in the weeks prior to her Spring Valley admission, Plaintiff received treatment from an outside emergency department and underwent a colonoscopy, both of which were within the average incubation period. Given the number of risk events within the incubation period, including a colonoscopy, defense counsel argued no reasonable expert could state with certainty that the contraction occurred at Spring Valley. The jury found Spring Valley Hospital did not deviate from the standard of care after less than 90 minutes.
HPS Wins Directed Verdict in Alleged Failure To Diagnose Pulmonary Embolism
HPS partner Eric Schoonveld and associate Tom Comstock achieved a directed verdict due to plaintiff's failure to offer sufficient evidence linking the alleged negligence of the hospital to the death of plaintiff's decedent. HPS successfully barred one of plaintiff's experts and argued at the close of plaintiff's case that proximate cause had not been established. The trial court agreed with the defense and granted the motion for a directed verdict.
The case involved the death of a 49 year old male who was admitted to St. Alexius Medical Center after passing out and hitting his head while exercising at the gym. The patient complained of shortness of breath and chest pain in the emergency room. He was evaluated by the co-defendant emergency room physician who charted a pulmonary embolism on his differential diagnosis. The emergency room physician ordered CT scans of the head and chest to rule out a possible pulmonary embolism.
Plaintiff argued that the CTs were performed untimely and that had the patient been scanned and received Heparin earlier he would have survived. At the close of plaintiff's case, the defense argued that none of plaintiff's experts established that the alleged negligence of the hospital was the proximate cause of the patient's death.
The patient was a corporate executive with substantial loss of future earnings. The plaintiff's pre-trial demand was 10 million dollars.
HPS Prevails on Motion for Summary Judgment on Eve of Trial
Partners David Hall, Hugh Griffin and Timothy Shanley have won summary judgment on the eve of trial in Caburnay v. Norwegian American Hospital. Plaintiff, a practicing anesthesiologist, alleged that he tripped and fell on a fold/buckle in a floor mat while attempting to enter an elevator at the Hospital. Plaintiff suffered a complete spinal cord injury and quadriplegia as a result of the fall. Plaintiff claimed that the Hospital destroyed evidence by failing to identify and preserve the floor mat involved in the fall.
After nearly five years of discovery, Cook County Circuit Judge Mary Mulhern granted summary judgment on both counts against the Hospital, finding that its placement and use of the floor mat was not negligent. Key to securing this ruling was the testimony of plaintiff's own expert, who admitted the Hospital was not negligent in using a floor mat in the manner it did. Additionally, Judge Mulhern found there was no evidence the Hospital had any prior notice that the subject floor mat had propensity to fold. On the issue of spoliation, Judge Mulhern found that although the subject floor mat was no longer available, production of it three or six months after the occurrence would not have been probative of whether a fold/buckle existed at the time of plaintiff's fall. Furthermore, plaintiff's experts conceded that they had enough information to render opinions that the Hospital's conduct caused plaintiff's fall. Plaintiff's counsel has stated his intent to appeal Judge Mulhern's decision.
HPS Successful Against Allegations of Hypoxic Brain Injury in ICU
Partners Eric Schoonveld and Tawni Anderson successfully defended Timpanogos Regional Hospital against claims that 30 year-old plaintiff suffered a hypoxic brain injury while in the ICU. The plaintiff argued that Timpanogos' nurses ignored the alarms on a pulse oximeter machine for 13 minutes leading to a respiratory arrest that caused her brain injury and post traumatic stress disorder. She contended that as a result of this event, she would never be able to work again and was incapacitated from filling her roles as a wife and mother.
The defense argued that the hospital staff's response to the alarms was immediate and was exemplary in every respect. The defense also mounted an aggressive opposition to plaintiff's causation arguments, and established that plaintiff did not have any brain injury from the respiratory arrest and was amplifying her symptoms. The defense also argued that the thousands of narcotic pain pills and other medications that the plaintiff was taking each year were unrelated to the alleged hypoxic injury and explained all of plaintiff's purported brain injury symptoms. Plaintiff sought in excess of $2.5 million in economic damages and an equivalent or greater amount for non-economic damages. After deliberating for two hours, the jury returned a unanimous verdict for the defense.
Partners Eric Schoonveld and Jennifer Ries-Buntain obtained a defense verdict in American Fork, Utah
Partners Eric Schoonveld and Jennifer Ries-Buntain obtained a defense verdict in American Fork, Utah for defendant Timpanogos Regional Hospital in a case involving the delivery of a pre-term infant. Plaintiff alleged that the emergency room nurses should have performed a more extensive evaluation of the mother after she presented to the emergency room with complaints of minor bleeding and cramps. Plaintiff further claimed that the nurses failed to apprise the treating physician of the mother's condition, resulting in emergency pre-term delivery at 23 weeks gestation. Plaintiff argued that absent this negligence the pregnancy could have been prolonged and the child's vision loss and brain injury could have been avoided.
The defense argued that the nursing staff properly monitored, evaluated and cared for the mother, including passing on all necessary information to the physician. Furthermore, the defendant argued that the mother was suffering from chorioamnionitis upon admission and cerclage was contraindicated because infection of the membranes would cause the fetus to be expulsed by the body regardless of any effort to prolong the pregnancy.
The co-defendant physician settled before trial. Plaintiff asked for damages ranging from $5-6 million. The jury returned a verdict of no liability as to the hospital.
HPS Attorneys Involved in Monumental Supreme Court Decision Finding Cap on Non-Economic Damages in Med Mal Cases To Be Unconstitutional
In a long awaited decision, the Illinois Supreme Court in Lebron v. Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, filed February 4, 2010, held that the statutory cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases is facially unconstitutional. Two justices dissented. The essence of the Opinion is at the bottom of page 23:
We hold that the limitation on non-economic damages in medical malpractice actions set forth in section 2-1706.5 of the Code violates the separation of powers clause of the Illinois Constitution. (Ill. Const. 1970, art. II, § 1) and is invalid. Because the Act contains an inseverability provision…we hold the Act invalid and void in its entirety.
The fundamental premise of the majority opinion authored by Chief Justice Fitzgerald is that the cap on non-economic damages violates the separation of powers clause "because it unduly encroaches upon the fundamentally judicial prerogative of determining whether a jury's assessment of damages is excessive within the meaning of the law."
In making this determination, the majority relied almost solely on the Supreme Court's prior decision in Best v. Taylor Machine Works, 179 Ill. 2d 367 (1997), wherein the Court reached the same conclusion with respect to the broad non-economic statutory damage caps struck down in that case.
The Lebron majority acknowledges that in Best the statute was initially determined to be unconstitutional special legislation, and that therefore the separation of powers analysis in Best was "judicial dictum." (p. 13). But the majority nevertheless follows this dictum in Best and rejects all of the defendants' attempts to distinguish Best.
Justice Karmeier, joined by Justice Garman, authored the dissent. The dissent would reexamine the separation of powers analysis in Best and find it wrong or inapplicable to the medical malpractice caps at issue here, as many other states have done.
HPS Begins 2010 With DuPage Defense Victory
Partners David Hall and Jacqueline Sharuzi secured a defense verdict for two defendant obstetricians in DuPage County in a brain damaged baby case involving a twin delivery. Plaintiff alleged that the defendant physicians failed to deliver the second twin via emergency c-section and inappropriately delivered the baby with the assistance of vacuum and forceps, allegedly causing hypoxic brain damage to the second twin. At trial, the defendants argued that the second twin would not have been delivered significantly faster via c-section and that the minor plaintiff's condition was not caused by acute birth asphyxia. During closing arguments, the plaintiff suggested damages in excess of $8.7 million. The jury returned a "not guilty" verdict in favor of the defendant obstetricians, who were the only remaining defendants in the case after the defendant hospital settled with the plaintiff on the eve of trial.