HM&M Wins $14 Million Verdict for Boy who Suffered a Brain Injury at Birth

September 27th, 2012  |  Verdicts & Settlements |  Medical Malpractice

Photo of HM&M Wins $14 Million Verdict for Boy who Suffered a Brain Injury at Birth

Outside the courthouse with the parents right after the verdict was received.

On Monday, the law firm of Hurley McKenna & Mertz won a $14 million jury verdict against Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Dr. Elias Sabbagha for the family of a boy who suffered a brain injury at birth. Over the course of a 3 ½ week trial, Christopher T. Hurley and Mark R. McKenna demonstrated to the jury that the negligence of Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Dr. Sabbagha during the boy’s birth caused his brain damage. Specifically, they proved that Dr. Sabbagha failed to perform a timely C-section when it was apparent that the fetus was in distress.

The verdict comes as a relief for the boy’s parents who have courageously fought for justice on behalf of their son over the past several years. HM&M is proud to have represented these wonderful, caring parents. As trial lawyers, there is nothing more rewarding than attaining justice for families like the one in this case.

This case was reported in the Chicago Sun-Times. To view the article, please click here.

Photo of HM&M Wins $14 Million Verdict for Boy who Suffered a Brain Injury at Birth

Outside the courthouse with the parents right after the verdict was received.


Chicago Police Department Begins Body Camera Pilot Program

October 10th, 2014

Photo of Chicago Police Department Begins Body Camera Pilot Program

Section 1983 of the U.S. Civil Code is often referenced in media reports regarding police misconduct.  This federal law permits private citizens to sue local and state entities for the deprivation of constitutional rights.

Part of the Code states: “...any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress…”

New technology introduced to police departments nationwide may begin video recording interactions between officers and civilians, generating important evidence. The video cameras allow for the recordings to be uploaded to localized servers. Law enforcement agencies in both New York and Los Angeles are now testing the use of the technology, and Chicago is considering whether to outfit police officers with body cameras.

In a video posted by the Chicago Tribune, Steve Lovell, VieVu president, demonstrates the use of its video camera designed, he says, to improve officer efficiency and documentation. VieVu’s wearable technology is focused for use primarily by government and law enforcement. The compact cameras are battery-powered, recording both audio and video. While most are worn at the chest area, others can be shoulder-mounted or attached to glasses. 

Chicago Police Superintendent. Garry McCarthy said in an interview with ABC 7 Chicago that the cameras are beneficial to officers. He reported that Chicago police have begun the beginning stages of a pilot program for the body cameras, but faces questions about who is responsible for turning the camera on and off, who retains the data, and who has access to it. Before implementing full departmental use, rules of engagement will have to be put into place.

If you require legal counsel regarding police misconduct in Illinois, contact an experienced Chicago general negligence attorney today. Call the law office of Hurley McKenna & Mertz, P.C. at 312-553-4900 for a free consultation regarding your case.

Photo of Chicago Police Department Begins Body Camera Pilot Program

FDA Panel Votes to Impose Strict Limitations on Testosterone Drugs

October 8th, 2014  |  Medical Malpractice

Photo of FDA Panel Votes to Impose Strict Limitations on Testosterone Drugs

Testosterone therapy drugs are prescribed to men who suffer from “low-T” or low testosterone, a condition that can lead to a decrease in bone and muscle mass, loss of libido, and depression. Since the early 2000s, the use of testosterone therapy has quadrupled for men in their 40s. In the United States, testosterone therapy has risen to a $2 billion industry.

In 2013, The New York Times published an article that reported marketing for testosterone therapy targeted men with common aging symptoms, such as lack of energy, rather than those tested for hypogonadism or “low-T.” Research has questioned whether men who are prescribed testosterone drugs all suffer from the “low-T” condition and if the benefits of testosterone outweighs the risks.

Previous research from the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that testosterone therapy is linked to a 30 percent increase of risk of stroke or other cardiac condition. Several months following this study, PLOS One published a study reporting that testosterone drugs double the risk of heart attack in men over 65 and triple the risk in younger men with heart disease.

The New York Times recently reported that an expert panel for the FDA voted almost unanimously to implement new limitations on the testosterone drug industry. Among the recommendations: stricter labels for medications. Dr. Michael Domanski, a member of the panel and director of heart failure research at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, said, “The whole idea is to try to rein in the inappropriate advertising and use of these drugs.” 

If the FDA follows the panel’s recommendations, it could mean a significant decrease in the number of men prescribed testosterone therapy and possibly limit insurance coverage for its use. Evidence presented to the panel revealed that a fifth to a quarter of men prescribed testosterone drugs have not received a baseline test of their testosterone level.

As of last year, 2.3 million Americans were being treated with testosterone drugs. If you have taken testosterone therapy and need legal counseling in Illinois, contact an experienced Chicago medical malpractice attorney today.

Photo of FDA Panel Votes to Impose Strict Limitations on Testosterone Drugs

Plavix Patients May Face Risk of Stroke Due to Poor Metabolization

September 30th, 2014  |  Product Liability

Photo of Plavix Patients May Face Risk of Stroke Due to Poor Metabolization

Plavix is the brand name for clopidogrel, a drug prescribed to help prevent blood clots from forming in the arteries. It has been prescribed to more than 115 million patients worldwide. Bristol-Myers Squibb-Sanofi Pharmaceuticals is the drug manufacturer that markets the drug’s ability to:

-Increase blood flow to the legs;
-Prevent mini-strokes; and
-Prevent or treat heart attacks.

However, in 2010, the FDA issued an alert to patients and health care professionals of the potential of reduced effectiveness for Plavix for those unable to metabolize the drug and convert it to its active form. Patients who are poor metabolizers would not receive the full effects of the drug. Therefore, continuing the risk for cardiovascular conditions such as stroke, heart attack, and in some cases, death.

Patients may also still suffer from a series of side effects that can include:

-Dizziness;
-Vomiting;
-Seizures;
-Changes in vision; or
-Unusual bleeding or bruising.

As an example, in an emailed statement earlier this year, Hawaii Attorney General David Louie said that 38 percent to 70 percent of Pacific Islanders and 40 percent to 50 percent of East Asians may not respond as well to Plavix due a genetic predisposition that does not allow for adequate metabolizing of the drug.

Plavix was first approved in 1997, 13 years before the boxed warning was added to the labeling. Drug manufacturers are responsible for issuing clear warnings for their products when there is a chance a product may cause harm. There have been lawsuits filed based on Bristol-Myes Squibb-Sanofi Pharmaceuticals failure to disclose this pertinent information. Claims state that the company knew or should have known about the drug’s lack of effectiveness in some patients.

Plavix patients should speak to their doctors with concerns or if they are experiencing side effects. If you or a family member are in need of legal counseling or advice about defective drugs in Illinois, contact an experienced Chicago medical malpractice attorney today. Call Hurley McKenna & Mertz, P.C. at (312) 553-4900 for a free consultation.

Photo of Plavix Patients May Face Risk of Stroke Due to Poor Metabolization

Boyfriend of Woman Killed by Falling Stone Claims Negligence, Sues Church

September 23rd, 2014  |  Other Accidents & Negligence

Photo of Boyfriend of Woman Killed by Falling Stone Claims Negligence, Sues Church

It has been reported a lawsuit was filed in Cook County Circuit Court this month by Lance Johnson, the boyfriend of the woman who was hit by a falling church stone, an incident which resulted in her death. Johnson was walking with the victim, Sarah Bean, when part of a stone gargoyle fell from the church, hitting her in the head.

Johnson is suing both the Second Presbyterian Church, a Chicago South Loop church, and the Presbytery of Chicago. Claims of the lawsuit state that there was negligence in ownership of the church building by allowing the wall’s exterior to “exist in a dangerous and unrepaired condition.”

Negligence is defined as a failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have implemented under the same conditions. Chicago city records show a history of violations reported about the church’s structure from 2007 to 2011 including failure to maintain an interior stairway system and failure to remove obstruction from building exits.

The church was built in 1974 and declared a historic national landmark in 2013. It passed inspections in 2012 and 2013. 

When it comes to negligence, there are five elements required to establish a case:

-The existence of legal duty to exercise reasonable care;
-Failure to exercise reasonable care;
-Cause in fact of physical harm by negligent conduct;
-Physical harm in the form of actual damages; and
-Proximate cause. 

Rev. Robert Reynolds, executive presbyter with the Presbytery of Chicago, said he was unaware of any immediate structural issues at the time of the incident. He says that it is the responsibility of individual congregations to maintain their buildings.

If you are seeking legal counsel because you or a loved one has suffered a personal injury due to negligence in Illinois, contact a skilled Chicago general negligence attorney at Hurley McKenna & Mertz, P.C. Call 312-553-4900 for an immediate free consultation.

Photo of Boyfriend of Woman Killed by Falling Stone Claims Negligence, Sues Church

Stryker Recall Ignites Artificial Hip Litigation Nationwide

September 17th, 2014  |  Stryker & Other Defective Hip Implants

Photo of Stryker Recall Ignites Artificial Hip Litigation Nationwide

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has reported more than 285,000 hip replacements are performed each year in the U.S. Stryker, a medical device manufacturer, marketed metal-on-metal artificial hips as having the capability to last longer in patients and provide a broader range of motion. The design of metal-on-metal hips involves both the ball and socket components being made from metals such as chromium or cobalt.

In 2011, these artificial hips accounted for approximately one-third of hip replacement procedures. However, due to product failure, Stryker voluntarily issued a hip recall for its ABG II and Rejuvenate hip devices and shut down global distribution of these products in 2012.

According to The New York Times, as patients continued to encounter problems with their artificial hips, the FDA ordered studies of all artificial hip producers to address concerns and determine whether the hip implants were shedding an exorbitant amount of metal debris.

The FDA listed several health risks and adverse effects that could result from metal-on-metal hip implants including:

-Tissue Damage
-Hip/Groin Pain
-Infection
-Swelling and Numbness

Metal ions entering the bloodstream from the artificial hips raised additional concern because this could lead to the following:

-Auditory or Visual Impairments
-Renal Failure
-Thyroid Impairments
-Cognitive Impairments

Metal ions entering the bloodstream from the artificial hips raised additional concern because this could lead to the following:

-Auditory or Visual Impairments
-Renal Failure
-Thyroid Impairments
-Cognitive Impairments

Patients have been encouraged to speak with their physicians, if they have been the recipient of a metal-on-metal hip implant, even if they have yet to experience any symptoms. Failure of these defective products can lead to the need for hip revision surgeries or alternative care.

Manufacturers are responsible for thorough testing of all products before they are marketed. When companies fail to provide proper testing, products can result in patient harm. Our attorneys have experience in litigating against large medical manufacturing companies such as Stryker. If you or a family member received a metal-on-metal hip implant in Illinois, contact a Chicago defective medical device lawyer at Hurley McKenna & Mertz, P.C. Call 312-553-4900 for a free consultation today.

Photo of Stryker Recall Ignites Artificial Hip Litigation Nationwide

Proposed Illinois Law Allows Video Monitoring in Nursing Homes

September 16th, 2014  |  Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect

Photo of Proposed Illinois Law Allows Video Monitoring in Nursing Homes

Families with concerns about placing their relatives in long-term care may soon be given an extra sense of security. A new Illinois bill proposed earlier this month has the potential to give families, whose loved ones are in nursing homes, extra peace of mind through video monitoring.

If approved, the law would allow the installation of video cameras or audio recording devices by families in their relative’s nursing home room. Consent would be required of residents who are monitored.

States including Maryland, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and Washington all have passed similar laws. When a family member cannot make an in-person nursing home visit, video access will allow them to check-in on their relatives throughout the day.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said the push for this law stems from complaints of elder abuse in nursing homes. Video and audio recording provides documentation to support allegations that may arise due to nursing home abuse or neglect.

Research conducted by the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) has shown that over 50 percent of nursing home staff admitted to mistreating elder patients. Types of abuse involved in the recorded data includes:

-Physical abuse;
-Psychological abuse;
-Sexual abuse;
-Neglect;
-Financial exploitation; and
-Abuse among residents.

One of the studies also involved interviews of 2,000 nursing home residents; 95 percent of which said they had been neglected or seen another resident neglected. Families want to see that their relatives are being well taken care of and know if and when their care is compromised in any way. Passing of this new bill will help them achieve that.

When it comes to family matters, we want to make sure yours is protected. If you are concerned about your loved ones regarding possible nursing home neglect in Illinois, contact an experienced Chicago nursing home abuse attorney. Call the law office of Hurley McKenna & Mertz, P.C. at 312-553-4900 for a free consultation today. 

Photo of Proposed Illinois Law Allows Video Monitoring in Nursing Homes

New Documents Released Detailing Priest Sexual Abuse

April 30th, 2014  |  Sexual Abuse Litigation |  Firm News

Today the Diocese of Joliet released more of its internal documents relating to sexual abuse by its priests.  This is part of the ongoing disclosure required as part of a legal settlement last year.

This most recent batch of documents sheds more light on 16 of the 34 priests included on the diocese's list of credibly accused clergy, and includes a 438-page file on Rev. James Burnett.  Burnett was accused of molesting an 8 year-old boy while serving at St. Mary Catholic Church in Mokena.  He later served as rector at the Cathedral of St. Raymond in Joliet. 

It is tragic to read how much the church knew about clergy sex abuse, and even more tragic to realize how little it did to protect the most vulnerable members of its flock.  Yet the unprecedented disclosures are empowering more victims to acknowledge the harm they suffered and to demand their rights.  


It Just Keeps Coming

January 21st, 2014  |  Sexual Abuse Litigation

It just keeps coming. 

The institutions that downplayed the crisis--that denied knowing about sexual predators in their midst, that protected the abusers and covered up for them so they could hurt more and more children--just keep admitting to more. 

Today it was the Archdiocese of Chicago.   After years of denial, the Archdiocese has released thousands of pages of internal church documents showing how it concealed sexual abuse for decades, moving priests to new parishes where they molested again. 

But we still don't know everything.  The files only cover 30 priests, and even the Archdiocese acknowledges there are many more.   As reported in USA Today, I told the reporter my take on this latest disclosure:  "They have hand-picked 30 priests, but if they really are all about redemption and forgiveness they should release documents involving all the priests."

Sadly enough, we don't know how far this all goes.  But here’s what I do know:

It will just keep coming.


Just a Routine Operation:

January 20th, 2014  |  Medical Malpractice |  General Commentary

I just came across this amazing story.  A man in Britain whose wife died during routine surgery is trying to help the medical field learn from the tragedy.  And it all stems from a failed airway situation very much like we saw in our last verdict for the Tagalos family.  

As a pilot, Martin Bromiley has been taught safety procedures and communication methods to help address the “human factors” that cause 75% of airplane accidents.  But he doesn’t see the medical profession recognizing these same factors, or taking measures to address them.  Surely many medical tragedies—like his own wife’s death-- could be prevented if it did.

Like Mr. Bromily I believe that the vast majority of our doctors and medical professionals are well prepared and well intentioned.  But doctors, like pilots, are real humans with human failings who hold our lives in their hands. Let’s join with Mr. Bromily in supporting common-sense safety and communications procedures to make medicine safer.