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.


Investigations Reveal Preventable Fires and Mechanical Defects to Blame for General Aviation Deaths

November 10th, 2014  |  Product Liability |  General Commentary

Photo of Investigations Reveal Preventable Fires and Mechanical Defects to Blame for General Aviation Deaths

The importance of a manufacturer recall when a product is proven to cause harm is to protect the safety of public consumers. In a series of articles published by USA Today earlier this year, the investigation found repeated occurrence of defects in small airplanes and helicopters over the past five decades that have led to an estimated 45,000 deaths. 

Extensive review of crash victim autopsy reports reveals that while many pilots and passengers survive the initial impact of a plane or helicopter crash, they often die from fires and smoke inhalation caused by unsafe or defective fuel tanks and exhaust systems.  While airplane and helicopter manufactures have known about the dangers of post-crash fires for decades, and in spite of the availability of leak-proof and fire-retardant fuel and exhaust systems, the manufactures have refused to install the safer fuel and exhaust systems in their aircraft.  

USA Today performed an extensive review of internal manufacturer records and government documents that cited the following examples of defects leading to general aviation fatalities:

- Exhaust gas leaks in airplane exhaust systems causing engine fires;
- Pilot seats that suddenly slide backwards, causing a nose-dive in airplanes when pilot loses grip of controls; and
- Airplane and helicopter fuel tanks that easily rupture and ignite, causing people to be burned alive after otherwise survivable low-impact crashes.

The FAA has refused to hold the manufactures accountable for these defects.  The FAA has stood by while aircraft manufacturers continue to build new aircraft with old technology. Tens of thousands of small airplanes and helicopters are constructed and allowed to operate under decades-old safety standards, in spite of the existence of newer, safer designs for aircraft parts, fuel and exhaust systems.  Manufacturers have refused to recall suspected defective parts, some which are still in use, leaving hundreds of aircraft susceptible to further causes of death. 

When an airplane or helicopter crash results in injuries or death that could have been prevented, manufacturers must be held accountable.  If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of an airplane or helicopter crash, contact an experienced Chicago aviation and product liability attorney today. Call the law office of Hurley McKenna & Mertz, P.C. at 312-553-4900 for a free case evaluation.

Photo of Investigations Reveal Preventable Fires and Mechanical Defects to Blame for General Aviation Deaths

Plaintiffs Awarded Billion-Dollar Settlement in Stryker Lawsuit

November 4th, 2014  |  Product Liability

Photo of Plaintiffs Awarded Billion-Dollar Settlement in Stryker Lawsuit

A settlement involving a minimum award of $1.43 billion has been reached in ongoing product liability litigation against Stryker Orthopedics. The 3,000-plus clients represented in the Stryker hip implant lawsuit will each receive a base amount of $300,000 with additional compensation for those who suffered revision surgery complications to remove the defective hip implant.

Stryker manufactured and promoted its Rejuvenate and ABG II Modular-Neck Hips implants as having the capability of providing longer life and greater range of motion for patients. The FDA approved Stryker’s Rejuvenate Modular hip system in 2008 as part of a 510(k) premarket application, which determined the hip implant was “substantially equivalent” to pre-approved, legally marketed medical devices.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 332,000 hip replacements in 2010. Two years later, Stryker issued a recall of its Rejuvenate and ABG II Modular-Neck Hips implants due to dangers resulting from the poor design and improper testing of the device. Studies showed that patients faced health risks including:

Cell and tissue damage;

- Swelling;
- Pain; and
Metal corrosion allowing metallic ions into the bloodstream.

Patients who have Stryker’s metal-on-metal hip implants are also subject to potential dislocation, disability, and permanent damage. Following the recall, the number of patients scheduling hip replacement surgeries increased. A medical device manufacturer is responsible for the products it markets. When a product causes injury to a patient, the manufacturer holds accountability.

This settlement represents one of many ongoing cases against Stryker and illustrates justice served to its victims. Our law firm is dedicated to fighting for the rights of those who have been harmed as a result of a defective medical product.

If you or a loved one received a metal-on-metal hip implant in Illinois, contact an experienced Chicago product liability attorney today. You may be entitled to compensation. Call the law office of Hurley McKenna & Mertz, P.C. at 312-553-4900 for a free case evaluation.

Photo of Plaintiffs Awarded Billion-Dollar Settlement in Stryker Lawsuit

Question of Accountability: Doctors Violating Standard of Care Eligible for Licensure in Other State

October 31st, 2014  |  Medical Malpractice

Photo of Question of Accountability: Doctors Violating Standard of Care Eligible for Licensure in Other State

As of 2011, Illinois ranked in the top 20 of medical state licensing boards’ serious doctor disciplinary action rates. The state reported 143 cases, resulting in an average of 3.45 serious actions per every 1,000 physicians from 2009 to 2011.

Doctors called into question for medical malpractice face the possibility of having their license suspended or revoked. However, this only limits medical practice in the state they are currently licensed and a doctor under investigation can still obtain licensure in other states.

According to a Bloomberg report, a general practitioner surrendered his license in Missouri “in lieu of discipline” for violation of several drug laws as part of a settlement agreement in 2009, but secured a license to practice in Illinois as he was being investigated.

The physician’s license was revoked in Missouri, but the Illinois board allowed him to continue practicing in 2011, according to an agreement instituting:

- An indefinite probation of a minimum of five years while his practice was monitored by another physician;
- A suspension from practicing for 30 days; and
- Continuation of psychiatric therapy.

Almost $3.6 million was paid by Medicare for his services in 2012.

If a hospital, clinic or other health care facility hires a doctor with poor qualifications or a history of misconduct, the facility may be liable for institutional negligence if that doctor injures a patient.  If you have been injured due to medical malpractice in Illinois, contact an experienced Chicago medical negligence attorney today. Call the law office of Hurley McKenna & Mertz, P.C. at 312-553-4900 for a free consultation regarding your case in Cook County, the State of Illinois, or across the country.

Photo of Question of Accountability: Doctors Violating Standard of Care Eligible for Licensure in Other State

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