call us: 1-800-LAWYERS 888-484-9881 / 312-332-1400

fax : 908-253-9339

$22.18 Million Verdict in Case Against Mercy Hospital

GET HELP NOW

  • Please enter the code shown in the box below so we know you aren’t a robot.

  • captcha

At Lane & Lane, we take cases because we really believe in them, even when those cases are immensely difficult or complicated. We’d like to share with you the story of one of those difficult cases, fought on behalf of a woman who was left permanently disabled and imprisoned in her own body due to medical negligence. For over 10 years, our attorneys worked tirelessly to obtain justice for our client, and we are proud to report that Partners Steve and Scott Lane ultimately secured a multi-million dollar ($22,185,598.50) verdict in her case against Mercy Hospital & Medical Center. Here is her story.

Dental Abscess Progresses to Emergency Tracheostomy

Our client had had a congenital heart defect which was repaired by replacing her aortic heart valve. The replacement valve required that she take a blood-thinning medication, Coumadin, as a preventative measure so that she wouldn’t develop blood clots. Four years after the aortic valve replacement, she developed a dental abscess. She saw a dentist, who prescribed an oral antibiotic and instructed our client to return to him or go to the emergency room if it got worse. Over the next few days, the abscess and infection progressed, and developed into Ludwig’s angina, an infection of the dental floor and neck. This type of infection, if untreated, can progress to cause swelling near the larynx and can even close off the patient’s airway, making breathing difficult or impossible. She was seen at Mercy Hospital & Medical Center, and it was determined that she needed an emergency awake tracheostomy to protect her airway.

Immediately after the emergency surgery, she was doing well. The infection was subsiding, and the hospital was planning for her discharge. However, five days later, she began to develop new drainage and then bleeding from the site of the tracheostomy. Unfortunately, this is when her story would begin to turn tragic.

Family Unable to Get Sufficient Help From Mercy Hospital Staff for Bleeding From Trach Site

On the night of February 27, 2005, our client began to show new drainage from the trach site. The nurse was called, but she didn’t notify any doctor. Later that night, our client started trickling bloody drainage from the site. The nurse described her in her notes as “tearful” and difficult to settle down at times.” The nurse sedated our client with Ativan to calm her anxiety, but again, no doctor was called. Our client woke up a couple of hours later, coughing up blood through the tracheostomy, and again, no doctor was called. She made it through the night without any apparent issues, and was seen by the ENT resident, who noted that she’d had “mild bleeding” overnight.

That afternoon, our client was taken to the cardiac catheterization lab for an examination of her valve replacement to make sure the infection hadn’t damaged it before she was discharged home. In the cath lab, the staff noticed she was bleeding from the trach site, and contacted the ENT service. The ENT resident came to see her, and cauterized the tracheostomy wound and repacked the site with Vaseline gauze. He entered an order to type and cross match our client for four units of FFP (fresh frozen plasma, used to counteract Coumadin and make it easier to clot) and two units of PRBCs (Packed Red Blood Cells, used to replace blood loss) in case the bleeding started again, and our client was returned to her hospital room in the med-surgical unit.

Within an hour or so of her return from the cath lab, our client’s sister, who was in our client’s room when she returned, saw that our client was bleeding. She was very concerned, and notified hospital staff that there was a problem, but it was treated as “no big deal” because the woman’s vital signs were stable. The bleeding continued throughout the day, and her sister kept begging the hospital staff to pay attention to our client.

A nurse contacted the same ENT resident who’d attended to our client in the cath lab. A STAT order (means should be done as soon as possible) for the infusion of four units of fresh frozen plasma (FFP) was placed by the ENT resident, and then he left the hospital. He never returned or called to check on our client for the next several hours.

Our client’s sister remained at the hospital all afternoon and evening, and she kept calling the hospital staff to attend to her sister. Several sources corroborated the fact that our client was coughing up blood and clots at times through the trach. Her nurse charted a note that our client had stated, “I’m choking on these blood clots,” and that she’d been coughing up blood and clots through the trach. Finally, at 11:00 p.m., the nurse—who had little nursing experience and had cared for just one or two trach patients in her career—paged the medical resident on call. For the next hour and a half, there were no notes or orders in the chart that suggested that the resident responded to the nurse’s page in any way.

Finally, at 12:30 a.m., the nurse paged the medical resident again; she came and paged her senior resident. Neither of the resident physicians attending to our client had any trach management experience.

Ultimately, our client developed an airway obstruction and suffered respiratory distress, respiratory arrest, and brain damage from lack of oxygen. This left her disabled from terrible tremors of all of her muscles, her face and all extremities, and affected all voluntary actions of any kind. These tremors are called active myoclonic tremors because they are affected by activity; the more the victim tries to do something, the more pronounced the tremors become, and the harder it becomes to do whatever the patient is trying to do. In this case, this condition affected literally every intentional act our client attempted. It caused wild tremors of her extremities, and because her facial muscles were impacted, also affected her speech to the point where it was very difficult for many people—even those who knew her—to understand her. Walking and standing were impossible because of the tremors, and so she was confined to a bed and wheelchair. She was unable to transfer from one place to any other without help, and so she literally was stuck wherever someone put her. Where she had been a completely independent working single mother of six, she was now completely dependent on others for all of her activities of daily living.

Partners Steve and Scott Lane Obtain $22.18 Million Verdict in Tough Medical Malpractice Case

Hospitals must respond quickly to problems and complications, especially when those complications could create potentially life-threatening problems for the patient. Because our client’s family was unable to get timely help at Mercy Hospital, a medical disaster occurred, and a question of medical malpractice arose. The patient and her family turned to Lane & Lane to investigate what had happened and how the hospital staff’s actions—or lack of action—contributed to her injuries.

After thoroughly investigating the case and ultimately filing a lawsuit, our attorneys argued that Mercy Hospital had been negligent in handling our client’s post-tracheostomy care and did not respond to the bleeding and obstruction of her tracheostomy in a timely manner. Managing partner Steve Lane worked up the investigation and litigation, and Scott and Steve Lane tried the case, successfully arguing that:

  • The development of bleeding was a significant change in our client’s condition, and should have been brought to the attention of the physicians who were in charge of her care. The defense claimed that it was simply “oozing” and expected after a tracheotomy.
  • The hospital’s nurses and residents failed to respond in a timely manner and protect our client’s airway. The senior resident stated that he saw our client and her sister with their hands around and near the trach site when he arrived, trying to stop the bleeding, and that he saw the sister “adjusting” the trach. In his deposition and at trial, the resident testified that he never saw any active bleeding, and that he was just going by what the sister had told him. The defense contention was that our client’s sister manipulated her tracheostomy out of position to cause the obstruction and caused her respiratory arrest and brain damage.

The hospital made no settlement offer at all during the more than ten years the case was pending before trial. During that time, Steve and Scott took 93 depositions, obtained multiple versions of what were supposed to have been “complete” hospital records; worked with leading ENT, neuroradiology, nursing, hospital administration, hematology, physiatry, and other experts in their efforts to investigate and successfully prosecute the case; and even had to file suit in Virginia to locate a nurse whose notes were missing from the hospital record.

A few days before the final verdict was issued, the defense offered a “high-low agreement,” which would allow the trial to proceed but set a minimum amount the client could recover as well as a cap on the damages that could be claimed. In this case, the hospital’s offer would have guaranteed the client a minimum recovery of $500,000 but capped the amount of maximum recovery at $7 million. However, Partners Steve and Scott Lane knew that the client deserved more for what she had been through. While the jury was deliberating, the hospital’s attorneys withdrew their offer.

Steve and Scott tried the case together, ultimately obtaining a $22.18 million verdict on behalf of their client, which included compensation for:

  • The costs of her medical treatment
  • The expected costs of future medical treatment
  • The past and future costs of needed assistance
  • Lost wages and benefits
  • Emotional distress
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of a “normal life”

A Bittersweet Victory in a Hard-Fought Case for Lane & Lane

While a large verdict in a difficult case like this one is usually a cause for celebration and relief, the news of this success was bittersweet. Unfortunately, after ten years spent waiting for resolution, the client passed away the evening before the verdict was issued. Despite the sad ending to our client’s story, we are so proud of Steve’s and Scott’s work in this case, and we’re grateful for contributions by Partner Mark Brown, associate attorneys Ray Steadmon and Olivia Sarmas, and law clerk Kevin Griffin, in particular, who all literally worked around the clock getting ready and preparing the case in the three months before the trial. Everyone was amazing and tireless in making this case a success for our client and her family.

Our victory was truly a team effort, with literally all of our office pulling together for one common goal…winning for our client. Over the years, our client became a part of our family, and we became a part of hers.

If you or a loved one has been hurt because a doctor, nurse, hospital, or other care provider failed to respond adequately to a medical issue, you should know that you can get answers and legal support through this difficult time. Start learning more about your rights today by reading through our free book, What to Do If You Have Been Injured by Your Doctors or Hospital, or call our Chicago law office directly at 888-484-9881 for immediate assistance.

Awarded: $22,185,598.50

Testimonials

  • “I would like to thank Mark Brown for standing up to my insurance company and fighting for me and my family. My case involved a traumatic brain injury and an underinsured motorist claim followed by a bad faith claim. The …

    NA
  • Joi & Reggie
  • “Stephen is one of the most-knowledgeable and client-friendly attorneys I know. He is a fantastic trial lawyer who goes beyond the basics to assure he is providing the best service for his clients. He tailors his services to those client …

    Tt
  • “Steve Lane is an accomplished trial attorney and advocate for individuals and families who have sustained injury or suffered death. He is tireless and extremely committed and I am happy to endorse him for his professional service and dedication.”…

    Rt
  • “Steve is an exceptional plaintiff’s trial attorney. He is kind, compassionate, highly intellectual and a master at the art of trail. I highly recommend him.”…

    Tk
  • “Steve Lane is an exceptional human being and extremely talented professional, one who I have the highest respect for in both work and life. For the past 25+ years, I’ve been an executive in the global human resources industry, working …

    Pk
  • “Steve is a talented and creative lawyer who works hard to achieve extraordinary results for his clients. He is also an active and respected leader in the legal profession.”…

    Jg
  • “Steve and I are colleagues, not strictly in the same company but both members of the Illinois Plaintiffs’ bar representing victims of medical negligence. He is an compassionate, zealous, outstanding lawyer, and a strong advocate and supporter of people in …

    Ps
  • “Stephen is an excellent attorney with a tremendous reputation for doing everything he can for his clients. I would recommend Stephen without reservation.”…

    Th
  • “Stephen is a well-known and experienced trial lawyer. He has represented persons in the area of catastrophic injury for many years. Additionally Steve has been elected or appointed to leadership positions in multiple bar associations.”…

    Wl
  • “Steve and I went to law school together and worked hard to learn the law. Like all good lawyers, Steve never stopped learning, because when you want to excel you need to continually test yourself. He is also active in …

    Db
  • “Steve Lane is an outstanding attorney. He is hard working, detail oriented, and does an excellent job for his clients. I highly recommend Steve.”…

    Jr
  • “Steve and I have known each other for nearly eight years and have worked together on volunteer boards. I have come to trust Steve’s judgment on both business and technical matters, and know that his heart is in the right …

    Ri
  • “I have known Stephen Lane for over 25 years through my work as an attorney on personal injury cases and through presenting seminars with the Illinois State Bar Association. Stephen is an excellent attorney and has always been generous with …

    Rh
  • “Stephen is a highly reputable attorney with vast experience and knowledge.”…

    JH
  • “Stephen is an excellent attorney who has a great grasp of the complicated medical issues of the cases in which he is litigating. He is extremely technologically impressive and incorporates it nicely in his practice. What a wonderful advocate for …

    Ml
  • “Steve knows personal injury law as well as anyone. He knows what it will take to win a case, and when it is best to step away. He is honest and of the highest integrity.”…

    Af
  • “I’ve known Steve Lane for many years and have recommended many people (including my own clients) to him relative to personal injury and medical malpractice matters. He is an excellent and seasoned attorney in that field.”…

    Jk
  • “I highly recommend Stephen. He is an experienced and highly competent trial lawyer who has devoted his career to representing those wrongfully injured. He has successfully handled a variety of highly complex cases.”…

    Lh
  • “Steve is an excellent personal injury attorney of 30 plus years of experience. It is without reservation that I fully endorse him.”…

    Jm
  • “Stephen and I work together on the Leadership Council of Primerus, where I have been impressed by his practical and measured approach to the challenges of management of this ‘virtual global law firm’. It is a pleasure to work with …

    Ac
  • “Steve is best in the business. He brings his A GAME every day/all the time. If you seeking a professional legal advisor who will represent you like a family member – Steve Lane is the man to bring to the …

    Bl
  • “I have had the opportunity a number of years ago to work with Steve Lane in my professional capacity as a court reporter. He is conscientious, professional and most of all extremely competent in the field of law he practices.”…

    Fr
  • “Steve is one of the hardest working attorney’s I know. He has a tremendous amount of compassion for the people he is working with and for. He has a never give up attitude and will go to great lengths for …

    Sg
  • “Stephen has a compassion to help victims and injured people, and he is very effective because of his knowledge and experience. He puts the best interests of his clients above all other considerations. Other lawyers consider Stephen to be a …

    Gb
  • “In a typical year, I advise hundreds of attorneys on how their practice can be made more efficient and how the firm can better serve their client. Having done so for more than six years, I have seen attorneys of …

    Ra
  • “Steve is dedicated to helping those who have been injured through the negligent or intentional acts of others. He is compassionate, detail-oriented and will leave no stone unturned. Steve is also highly regarded in his field by colleagues, clients and …

    Sl
  • “There is a uniqueness about Stephen Lane. Stephen Lane is highly skillful, detailed oriented, dedicated, and takes his commitment to his clients seriously. Stephen Lane is a professional. He’s reliable and responsible. He has integrity, and goes the extra mile. …

    Mh
  • “I have known Stephen since our time at University of Illinois (1976). I also know him as a very skilled lawyer. He is also a quality human being. You cannot go wrong with Stephen Lane.”…

    Sg
  • “I have known Steve for nearly six years. His firm is a member of my organization, Primerus. In that time I have gotten well acquainted with Steve’s reputation as a lawyer and tireless advocate for justice. He is highly regarded …

    Sr
  • “Stephen Lane is a detailed-oriented, hard-working professional attorney with many, many talents. His greatest gift of all that I’ve admired over the eleven years I’ve known him is his kind & genuine spirit, work ethics, dedication, and love for people. …

    Mh
  • “Steve is knowledgeable, honest and easy to talk to. I would recommend him without hesitation.”…

    As
  • “Steve is a highly respected and successful injury trial lawyer. He is very knowledgeable and an extremely effective advocate for his clients. Steve is highly recommended.”…

    Mf
  • “I have known Steve Lane as a “friendly adversary” for many years – we used to office in the same building, and I have had many cases where Steve’s firm was on the opposite side. Steve and his firm are …

    Ms
  • “I am delighted and honored to recommend Steve. I can hardly think of any personal injury attorney and trial lawyer more respectable than Steve. His reputation is excellent amongst all Chicago lawyers and attorneys and amongst the victims of injuries …

    Nt
  • Steve and Scott…
    As I sit behind the desk working on closing out 2012, I was thinking about you and just thought I’d take a moment to tell you how much I’ve valued working together over these years. I took …

    Pam, legal nurse consultant
  • Your firm Lane & Lane, LLC is among a very distinctive group of law practices represented in the 2013 Martindale-Hubbell® Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers™. The history and influence of the Bar Register have made it the most definitive guide …

    Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory
  • Dear Steve,
    On behalf of The Chicago Bar Association College of Trial Advocacy, Judge Thomas More Donnelly and myself, thank you for your participation in the Jury Selection Law & Technique training program last month. We appreciate the time and …

    Megan Healy McClung, CBA College of Trial Advocacy
  • Scott-
    As a litigation consultant, I work with many law firms around the country in evaluating and assisting on product liability and personal injury cases. Over the past 20 years, I have truly enjoyed the opportunity to work with you, …

    Tony D
  • I was fortunate to have been referred and introduced to Ray Steadmon from Lane and Lane, LLC when I had an auto accident. Ray, along with Scott Lane, worked on my case. Ray and Scott are courteous, patient, organized, efficient …

    B. Abrams
  • Attorney Scott Lane, partner with Lane & Lane, gave a talk on distracted driving at the Deerfield Public Library on Monday, November 3rd, that addressed the dangers of distracted driving. The talk, “Ready to Hand Over the Keys?”, featured several …

    Lori & Felicia, Deerfield Parent Network committee
  • After a successful presentation of his “Hand Over the Keys” talk to an audience of parents and teens at the Deerfield Public Library on November 3rd, Attorney Scott Lane received a special thank-you from one of his fellow presenters.Alex addressed …

    Alex
  • “I would like to thank Scott Lane for his extraordinary efforts in my case. Scott went above and beyond to explain things to me and help me understand everything he was doing. I was amazed at how personal he took …

    Mr. Rick Joan
  • Partner Mark Brown was instrumental in settling a substantial medical malpractice and wrongful death case for the surviving family members of a man who died from an undiagnosed aortic dissection. After finally coming to the end of their long and …

    Ck
  • Scott,
    Thanks for taking the case: good work and great results.
    You helped me with your advice and encouragement, and the final result speaks for itself. Should there be any need in the future, I’ll know who to ask for …

    Alex P
  • Partner Scott Lane was instrumental in helping a man who was seriously injured in a car accident with a teen driver obtain the financial resources he needed for his treatment. After reading in the Lane & Lane newsletterthat Scott …

    testimonial8
  • We just wanted “Thank you”, for a job well done and for the hard work that you have put into settling our mom’s case. You really have put your whole self into our ease and we really and truly appreciate …

    The C**** family
  • I would like to start by saying thank you for your compassion and dedication during our case. I don’t think there is anyone more loyal or experienced as an attorney in all of the world. You made dealing and coping …

    Jb
  • Dear Scott:I was looking through some papers on my desk and buried under some files was my copy of “The Trusted Advisor” by David H. Maister, Charles H. Green & Robert M. Galford. It reminded me to send you this …

    Kr
  • Steve is an extremely knowledgeable and thorough attorney. In addition, he does everything possible to help his clients because he cares about them. Steve believes in the right to trial by jury and helping the little guy.…

    Th
  • “Our firm retained Stephen in a personal injury matter for our client The matter was in certain respects a little bit more complicated than your usual case. Nevertheless, the results were great. Stephen handled the matter to everyone’s satisfaction.”…

    Jt
  • “Steve was great. He helped me avoid numerous situations which were going to develop into major problems, and effectively took care of other instances / brought them to conclusion in my favor. Superb professional. I also place great value in …

    Sf
  • “We retained Steve after our mother was injured in a fall. We had known Steve for years and knew he was a person of the highest integrity. Steve was painstaking and detail-oriented in his approach, and fully explained developments and …

    Ls
  • “My sincere thanks to you and your staff for everything you accomplished on my behalf. Every member of your team is astoundingly attentive and friendly, and it was so reassuring to trust that I was in good hands. The settlement …

    Sj
  • Dearly beloved attorney Stephen Lane,With pleasure, love and gratitude I am responding to your letter. I am very thankful in having met you and having talked to you. Your words filled with love and comfort made me change my way …

    Gr
  • You were extremely helpful and very knowledgable and informative.…

    M.m.
  • Dear Staff at Lane and Lane LLC,I just wanted to say how helpful and thoughtful all of you have been through this difficult time.My family can’t thank you enough.You have exceeded all expectations with your service.Every member of your staff …

    PCH and family
  • Recommendation for Mark A. Brown and Lane & Lane, LLC

    Mark Brown and his team did an excellent job of representing me in my personal injury lawsuit. I contacted Mark just before the statute of limitation was due to expire. …

    DC 12/21/2012
  • “Dear Steve and Staff, We would like to thank everyone for the amazing job you all have done for us. It was really nice to work, and always a pleasure to hear from you all. With the warmest wishes, have …

    The K_________ Family
  • Dear Mark,

    I write to applaud you for your legal experience and expertise in the field of personal injury litigation, insurance issues as they relate to such litigation, your organization and assertiveness in quickly reaching a settlement in a very …

    J. c.
  • Scott:

    Nobody wants to retain an attorney, however an attorney friend recommended Lane & Lane, and Scott Lane in particular. Now several years after the case was resolved, I am more than pleased with the recommendation, council, and result from …

    P. m.
  • While in college, I was hit by a vehicle while walking home. I was initially wary of pursuing a lawsuit because I’d heard many stories of protracted litigation with unsatisfactory results, but I gained the confidence to proceed after meeting …

    Zy
  • Dear Ray and Scott,

    Thank you for taking us on as a client and for seeing us through a very trying time in our lives. The quality of service your firm extended far exceeded our expectations. From the start, you …

    The Buchanan Family
  • Hey there Mark!

    I don’t have a clever way of saying “Thank You” for all the hard work and determination you put into getting me the best resolution to my case. You and your staff were always there to keep …

    Pat
  • It’s been a few years. It was a January when my mom was still able to winter in Florida. It was an unfortunate day when she was chatting with friends after a tennis game when her accident happened. She was …

    Janice Barr, daughter of Trudi Altman
  • I was in a car accident and needed a personal injury lawyer, but didn’t know how to find a good honest lawyer. One of my friends told me to find the best lawyers go to the web-site www.martindale.com and that’s …

    testimonial1
VIEW ALL TESTIMONIALS
WordPress Video Lightbox