At the completion of a jury trial where the family of the deceased patient received a verdict of $3.6 million in an Illinois wrongful death case, a Cook County Circuit Court judge entered a verdict in favor of the defendant notwithstanding that verdict. However, on appeal, the Illinois Appellate Court reversed the trial judge’s decision and ordered that the case be returned on a motion for a new trial. Walton v. Dirkes, No.-08-0461.
The key issue in the case was whether or not the the patient had reported symptoms that would have matched a diagnosis of acute lymphoblastic leukemia, which wasn’t diagnosed until hours before his death.
The acute lymphoblastic leukemia went undiagnosed during two office visits to the defendant doctor. It wasn’t until Walton was admitted to the emergency room at Loyola University with an alarmingly high white blood count that the correct diagnosis was made. He died the next day from cardiac arrest related to his acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
The issue at the trial was whether or not the patient’s expert testimony adequately supported the verdict in favor of the plaintiff. The Illinois Appellate Court found that the plaintiff’s experts testified about specific procedures that would have helped Walton, but were delayed by the defendant’s (the doctor taking care of Walton) failure to order a complete blood count.
The Illinois Appellate Court held that Walton’s situation was more akin to those in a group of cases which found that the expert filled the gap with testimony tying up proximate cause. So essentially showing that the medical negligence lessened the effectiveness of a patient’s treatment.
In this case, the plaintiff’s expert oncologist testified that Walton’s leukemia could be diagnosed only through blood work. The expert further went on to state that Walton most likely had abnormal blood counts for months. If a correct diagnosis had been made then chemotherapy could have been initiated, which offers a cure rate of 50% to 60%. The Appellate Court held that the expert’s testimony was the strongest evidence of proximate cause in the case and affirmed the jury verdict.
Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Cook County medical malpractice cases and Illinois wrongful death claims for over 30 years, serving areas such as Buffalo Grove, Blue Island, Oak Brook, and Glencoe.