Not Guilty for Local Hospital Sued for Apparent Agency of Private Neurologist

July 2, 2021
Featuring Daniel B. Mills and Melissa L. Mitchell

CMV obtains its third straight defense verdict in 2021! On Thursday, June 24, 2021, Daniel Mills and Melissa Mitchell obtained a not guilty verdict in favor of a local hospital following a two and a half week jury trial in DuPage County.  The plaintiff, represented by Clifford Law Offices, alleged that the co-defendant neurologist failed to timely diagnose her brain cancer.  The plaintiff was initially treated at the hospital in August 2009 where an MRI showed an abnormality in the right frontal lobe of her brain.  The co-defendant neurologist planned to obtain a follow up MRI in three months, which was performed in December 2009.  There was no change in the MRI abnormality from August 2009 to December 2009 according to the imaging studies.  From January 2010 through January 2014, the plaintiff saw the co-defendant neurologist 18 times in her private neurology office, which was located in Lisle, Illinois.  During those five years, the co-defendant neurologist treated the plaintiff for migraine headaches but never obtained additional MRI images.  In July 2014, following an accident at work, plaintiff had an MRI which showed abnormalities throughout her brain and she was thereafter diagnosed with brain cancer.  Plaintiff sued the co-defendant neurologist and alleged that the neurologist was the apparent agent of the hospital in both 2009 and thereafter.  There were no direct allegations of negligence against the hospital or any of its employees.  Plaintiff alleged that her brain cancer was allowed to spread over those five years and that as a result of the negligence her only treatment option was whole brain radiation instead of surgery or focal radiation.  She further alleged that she suffered cognitive injuries as a result of the whole brain radiation.  Plaintiff asked for over $20 million in damages during closing arguments.  The defense argued that any alleged delay in diagnosing did not change the stage of plaintiff’s brain cancer, her treatment options, or her outcome.      

After deliberating for almost eight hours, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the hospital.  The jury found that the neurologist was the apparent agent of the hospital during the August 2009 hospital care but that there was no proximate cause as to any of the 2009 allegations.  The jury further found that the neurologist was not the apparent agent of the hospital during the 2010 through 2014 care that occurred at the neurologist’s private office.  The jury entered a verdict against the neurologist finding that she was negligent during the 2010 through 2014 outpatient care and awarded $3.35 million in damages.  No sums were awarded against or paid on behalf of the local hospital.