Heil v. Defendant Physician

  • Circuit Court, Cook County, Illinois10/01/1999
    Client: Defendant Physician
    Outcome: Defense Verdict

Synopsis:

A 33-year-old male plaintiff was admitted in a coma to the hospital with 107°F fever, renal failure, respiratory failure and Lithium toxicity. Plaintiff, previously diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder and bipolar disorder, was taking Lithium and Thorazine.

Plaintiff was placed on a ventilator and underwent dialysis and eventually came out of the coma but suffered severe cerebellar ataxia and dysarthria (slurred speech), leaving him in a wheelchair with inability to walk and only spastic use of hands and arms, requiring institutional care for life.

Plaintiff claimed defendants should have repeated dialysis to more rapidly reduce Lithium levels from toxic range and prevent further brain damage.

Defense contended that the decision to hold further dialysis was reasonable under the circumstances and that brain damage occurred before hospitalization due to coma, high fever and neuroleptic malignant syndrome.

Plaintiff sought $35 million. The jury returned a defense verdict.