Charles Cole Receives Directed Verdict in Medical Malpractice Case

March 18, 2024 11:13 AM
Charles Cole

Charles Cole, partner in the Chicago office of Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP and a member of the Medical Malpractice Department, received a directed verdict in a medical malpractice case. This was a three week trial against a very contentious plaintiff's counsel who ranted and raged throughout the entire trial claiming fraud, corporate conspiracy, and withholding of evidence. In the end, the trial judge determined that the plaintiff failed to prove a deviation from the standard of care and failed to prove proximate causation. Plaintiff's counsel had qualified the jury during voir dire regarding a verdict in excess of $2 million.

This was a strange case of a 37 year old woman who was a chronic alcoholic presenting to an emergency room seeking a medical clearance so she could enter a detox program. The hospital staff and the emergency medicine doctor performed an appropriate assessment and requested an evaluation from a psychiatric social work who staffed the emergency room. When the psych evaluation was delayed, the patient became irate and belligerent, and demanded to depart against medical advice. The doctor determined that the patient was decisional and that no basis existed to involuntarily hold the patient. Plaintiff's counsel claimed otherwise but had no expert to support him.  
The patient left the department, walked over to the parking garage, and proceeded to drink almost a fifth of vodka that she had kept in her purse. Ninety minutes later, the patient jumped or dropped over the third floor of the parking structure to the ground below suffering catastrophic injuries. She survived the fall but claimed permanent disabilities from the fall. Plaintiff contended this was a suicide attempt and could have been averted had the patient been held before she departed AMA. The plaintiff’s fatal problem was an absence of competent medical proof that this was a suicide that was foreseeable to a medical professional before the patient left the department.  

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