Lawyers at DBMS successfully litigate a wide variety of civil cases and argue appeals in some of the most challenging jurisdictions in the country.

Medical Malpractice

DBMS Successfully Defends Chicago Area Physician

June 21, 2023



Defense Verdict


Sherri Arrigo and Joe Rourke successfully defended a Chicago area physical medicine and rehabilitation physician in a medical negligence trial involving the alleged overprescribing of opioid pain medication in May 2011.

The patient was an 87-year-old woman with a prior medical history significant for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic pain and falls.  She had been maintained on opioid pain medication, including a fentanyl patch and Norco, for years prior to the care at issue.  After falling at home and suffering a head injury, the patient was admitted to a Chicago area rehabilitation unit and received multiple therapy services, including physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy.  While admitted to the rehabilitation unit, the patient’s pain medication regimen, which included the continued use of a fentanyl patch and Norco, was steadily increased due to the patient’s continued complaints of severe pain.  The patient also received benzodiazepines and a sleep medication throughout the admission for continued complaints of anxiety and sleeplessness.  In the early morning hours of May 11, 2011, after receiving Norco and a sleep medication, the patient suffered a respiratory event which required intubation and transfer to the Emergency Department.  The patient was extubated the next day and was noted by treating providers to be at her baseline condition.  At the request of the family, the patient was discharged home on May 16, 2011.  The family requested hospice care and the patient died on May 20, 2011.

The plaintiff claimed that the respiratory event that occurred in the early morning hours of May 11, 2011 was an overdose as a result of too many opioid pain medications too quickly.  The plaintiff further claimed that, as a result of the overdose, the patient suffered an anoxic brain injury that ultimately led to her death on May 20, 2011.

The defense established that the pain medication regimen managed by the physical medicine and rehabilitation physician was reasonable, appropriate and necessary given the patient’s opioid tolerance and persistent complaints of breakthrough pain.  Further, the defense established that the respiratory event that occurred in the early morning hours of May 11, 2011 was inconsistent with an opioid overdose and was consistent with an exacerbation of her pre-existing COPD, which the patient experienced on numerous occasions in the past.  The defense also established that the patient returned to her baseline condition within 24 hours of the respiratory event and ultimately died of emphysema.

The plaintiff asked for $1,000,000.00 in damages.  The jury returned a verdict for the defense.