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.


Medical Malpractice Cases Continue to Climb for Nearly Two Decades

October 28th, 2014  |  Medical Malpractice

Photo of Medical Malpractice Cases Continue to Climb for Nearly Two Decades

The Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) study “To Err is Human” was published over a decade ago with medical malpractice statistics showing that between 44,000 and 98,000 patients are killed in hospitals every year as a result of medical errors, leading up to $29 billion in costs every year.

The study reported errors at different points of care, including the following examples:

- Error or delay in diagnosis;
- Error to act on results of testing or monitoring;
- Error in administering treatment; and
- Error during operation or procedure.

Fast forward 15 years and patient safety issues are still a rising concern in hospitals across the country. Earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published an article summarizing that, “on any given day, approximately one in 25 U.S. patients has at least one infection contracted during the course of their hospital care.”

Results of the conducted surveys pinpointed an estimated 648,000 hospital patients with 721,800 health care-associated infections. The most common infections were:

- Pneumonia;
- Surgical-site infections;
- Gastrointestinal infections; and
- Catheter-associated urinary tract infections.

One thing is clear—tort reform and laws which limit the ability of injured patients to pursue medical malpractice claims lead to more medical errors and increased health care costs.  As noted recently by the Center for Justice & Democracy:

It is now indisputable that “caps” on compensation in medical malpractice cases (so-called “tort reform”) harm not just injured patients and their families.  They are also wrecking health care for everyone else.  Three new studies by esteemed academics in the field of medical malpractice research confirm for the first time that “caps” lead to more medical errors, higher health care costs and no increase in patient care physicians.

Medical negligence and hospital errors affect thousands of patients every year. If you require legal counsel or seek advice regarding medical neglect in Illinois, contact an experienced Chicago medical malpractice attorney today. Call the law office of Hurley McKenna & Mertz, P.C. at 312-553-4900 for a free case evaluation.

Photo of Medical Malpractice Cases Continue to Climb for Nearly Two Decades

Federal Safety Officials Expand Nationwide Air Bag Recall, Growing Number of Drivers in Danger

October 24th, 2014  |  Car & Truck Accidents |  Product Liability

Photo of Federal Safety Officials Expand Nationwide Air Bag Recall, Growing Number of Drivers in Danger

NBC News reports that a nationwide air bag recall affecting millions of drivers has been put into effect. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a warning on October 20th about Takata-made defective air bags in over 4.7 million vehicles. A day later, federal highway safety officials expanded that warning to include more U.S. vehicles involved in the recalls.

The danger of the air bags stems from the canisters exploding and projecting metal shrapnel under certain conditions, including high temperatures or humidity. GM has issued its own warning to vehicle owners of certain models, including:

- 2003 Pontiac Vibe
- 2004 Pontiac Vibe
- 2005 Pontiac Vibe
- 2005 Saab 9-2x

GM warns owners to not allow passengers to sit in the front until the air bags are repaired.

In September, The New York Times reported multiple instances of defective air bags over the last decade. The article stated that in 2004, a Honda Accord air bag exploded, dispensing metal fragments and causing injury to the car’s driver. This incident involved Takata as the air bag supplier and at the time, no recall was issued.

NHTSA Deputy Administrator David Friedman said of the current recall, “Responding to these recalls, whether old or new, is essential to personal safety and it will help aid our ongoing investigation into Takata airbags and what appears to be a problem related to extended exposure to consistently high humidity and temperatures.” 

A NHTSA listing of the affected car brands and the number of potentially affected models include:

- BMW (627,615)
- Chrysler (371,309)
- Ford (58,669)
- General Motors (Undetermined Total)
- Honda (5,051,364)
- Mazda (64,872)
- Mitsubishi (11,985)
- Nissan (694,626)
- Subaru (17,516)
- Toyota (877,000)

Our law firm has substantial experience in pursuing product liability cases against large vehicle and manufacturing companies, and we have won many multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements. We believe in accountability when products cause people harm. If you or a family member have been injured due to a defective air bag in Illinois, contact a Chicago product liability lawyer today. Call the law office of Hurley McKenna & Mertz, P.C. at 312-553-4900 for a free consultation regarding your case.

Photo of Federal Safety Officials Expand Nationwide Air Bag Recall, Growing Number of Drivers in Danger

Over 14 Million Vehicles Recalled Due to Defective Air Bags

October 22nd, 2014  |  Car & Truck Accidents |  Sexual Abuse Litigation |  Product Liability

Photo of Over 14 Million Vehicles Recalled Due to Defective Air Bags

The rise of vehicle recalls has grown over the past few months due to defective air bags in over 14 million vehicles and 11 car manufacturers. In a published online insight by The New York Times, the article reveals that defective air bags manufactured by Takata have been a concern for the past decade with the first reported incident occurring in 2004.

In this instance, the air bag exploded, shooting out metal fragments and causing injury to the driver of the Honda Accord. There was no recall issued at the time and Honda and Takata officials identified it as an isolated incident. Injuries reported have been due to shrapnel or chemicals coming from the faulty airbags. More than 30 of these injuries have been linked to flaws in Honda vehicles.

According to Honda officials, Takata reported that its plant workers had an unreliable, handwritten system for marking which air bags might contain defective parts. Another possible “explanation” of the faulty air bags was that machine operators working in the plant in 2001 could have unintentionally switched off the function that separates out poorly made devices, a problem corrected in 2002 with systems upgrades, according to Takata records.

Product manufacturers are responsible for reporting safety problems and potential risks to the public. As the The New York Times article points out, the delay by Honda and Takata to alert the public about its air bag defect led to other automakers such as Nissan, Toyota, and BMW being unaware of its own possible defects, delaying recalls.

Unfortunately, many times faulty product concerns are often handled on an internal basis only, leaving the public at risk. If you or a family member have been the victim of injuries due to a defective air bag in Illinois, contact a Chicago product liability lawyer who has experience litigating against manufacturing companies and cares about accountability.

Photo of Over 14 Million Vehicles Recalled Due to Defective Air Bags

Approximately 40 Percent of Illinois Doctors Yet to Switch to Electronic Medical Records

October 22nd, 2014  |  Medical Malpractice

Photo of Approximately 40 Percent of Illinois Doctors Yet to Switch to Electronic Medical Records

According to an article published by the American Academy of Family Physicians, doctors follow a risk management protocol when it comes to dealing with concerns surrounding possible cases of medical malpractice. The article refers to the “4 Cs” of risk management:

-Compassion
-Communication
-Competence
-Charting

The article, written by Richard G. Roberts, MD, stated that the greatest charting mistakes occur when physicians forget or fail to note what is important about a patient’s condition. A patient’s chart is the main source of information and a large part of the communication between medical providers on the case. A medical record oversight could lead to disastrous results.

For the past few years, the Obama administration has supported the idea of doctors and hospitals converting completely to electronic medical records. The goal is that electronic records make medical reporting more efficient and less costly. The government has already given billions of incentive dollars to hospitals for implementation of the conversion.

Not all physicians have welcomed the switch. Some doctors and hospitals share concerns about electronic documents including:

-Learning systems that are too time-consuming;
-Mistakes for medication orders not immediately recognized;
-Vulnerability of electronic records to system crashes; and
-Payment denial from Medicare due to electronically-copied documentation rather than individually written patient notes by a doctor or nurse to show need for medical care.

Earlier this year, it was reported that less than 50 percent of office-based physicians across the country were using electronic health records. Northern states, including North Dakota and Minnesota, have some of the highest numbers in the country for converting. Nearly 60 percent of Illinois has adopted electronic medical record usage.

Regardless of the way medical information is recorded, our law firm has experience in litigating against medical malpractice and uncovering evidence in a digital or electronic record. If you or a family member have been injured due to medical care negligence in Chicago or across the U.S., contact an experienced Illinois medical malpractice attorney from Hurley McKenna & Mertz, P.C. today.

Photo of Approximately 40 Percent of Illinois Doctors Yet to Switch to Electronic Medical Records

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

Frequency of Medical Malpractice Claims Hits Slowest Rate in 14 Years

October 1st, 2014  |  Stryker & Other Defective Hip Implants

Photo of Frequency of Medical Malpractice Claims Hits Slowest Rate in 14 Years

Last year, a report released by Aon Risk Solutions, a global provider of risk management, stated that the cost of medical malpractice is at its slowest rate in the 14 years that AON has released the “ASHRM Hospital and Physician Professional Liability Benchmark.”

Information in the report estimated that $.60 of every $100 in hospital revenue would be from medical malpractice claims. On average, this calculates to $135 per hospital admission. Aon health care practice leader Erik Johnson, who authored the report, projected zero growth in the number of malpractice suits due to liability claims being subject to a “complicated set of geographic, societal, and technological influences…resulting in a low inflationary environment for medical malpractice.”

How are health care organizations achieving cost savings? The employment of physicians to cover medical malpractice and use of self-insurance facilities have proven efficient. The promotion and implementation of patient safety and jointly defending claims when they occur has also led to the decrease of medical malpractice costs.

The liability benchmark for hospital professionals includes claims from all U.S. states with Florida having the highest projected loss rates for 2014 and Indiana the lowest. Other projected statistics from the 2013 report include loss rates of:

- $2,940 per occupied bed equivalent for hospital professional liability in 2014;
- $6,030 per class 1 physician for physician professional liability in 2014; and
- $119 per occupied bed equivalent for hospital general liability in 2014.

Medical malpractice cases are complex and require the experience of attorneys who are familiar with these types of cases and have the research and resources that are necessary to move forward.

If you seek legal counsel regarding medical negligence in Illinois, contact an experienced Chicago medical malpractice attorney today. Call the law office of Hurley McKenna & Mertz, P.C. at 312-553-4900 for a free case evaluation.

Photo of Frequency of Medical Malpractice Claims Hits Slowest Rate in 14 Years

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