February 2018 

HPS Appellate Team Victory Reduces Award to Plaintiff’s Estate by $15M

The HPS Appellate team, led by Hugh Griffin, successfully argued a case before the Illinois First District Appellate Court, to reduce an award for future damages by $15M to an estate of a woman who died the night before a jury awarded damages in a medical malpractice case.

Hugh Griffin, Jacob Goldstein and Stevie Starnes represented our hospital client in the appeal. The medical malpractice case was originally tried by HPS attorneys Ben Patterson and Kate Dzik. In the underlying case, our hospital client was sued for alleged medical negligence after brain damage was caused by blood clots in the plaintiff’s tracheostomy tube. The malpractice suit went to trial in late 2015.

In the written opinion, Justice Mary Anne Mason wrote, “the purpose of tort damages is to make plaintiff whole rather than to bestow a windfall.” The justices noted that because there was no judgement that could have been entered on the day that the plaintiff died, the matter should have been converted to a survival action. In a survival action, the estate wouldn’t have been entitled to damages that accrued after death. Therefore, the appellate court decided to vacate more than $15 million in future damages.

This case was covered in the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin’s article titled, “Death amid deliberation costs $15M,” and the Cook County Record’s article titled, “$22M malpractice verdict cut to $7M; appeals panel says plaintiff’s death during trial nixes future damages.”

This appellate victory comes after the HPS Appellate Practice received a National Tier 1 Ranking in the 2018 Edition of “Best Law Firms” by U.S. News & World Report - Best Lawyers.