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Spina Bifida Birth Defect Lawsuit Filed in Illinois

A lawsuit has been filed in Illinois against Abbott Laboratories, the maker of Depakote, an anticonvulsant and mood-stabilizing drug. The suit alleges that plaintiffs suffered from birth defects, including spina bifida, due to their mothers’ use of the drug during pregnancy.

The lawsuit, Battle, et al vs. Abbot Laboratories, was filed in St. Clair County Circuit Court on June 1, 2012. The lead plaintiff, Nicholas Battle, was born with spina bifida, as were several of the other plaintiffs. Other plaintiffs suffer from different types of neural tube defects. The lawsuit claims that the birth defects were caused by the use of Depakote during the early stages of pregnancy.

The plaintiffs allege that valproic acid, the active ingredient in Depakote, can cause birth defects if used during the first trimester of pregnancy. The lawsuit claims that Abbott Laboratories misled doctors about the dangers of the drug for pregnant women. The suit seeks damages for medical expenses, loss of normal life and future lost income.

Depakote is commonly prescribed to treat migraines, seizures and bipolar disorder. The FDA approved its use in treating epilepsy in 1983. In 1995, its use was approved for treatment of manic episodes associated with bipolar disorder, and in 1996, it was approved for treatment of migraines.

Spina bifida is a congenital disorder caused by the embryonic neural tube failing to completely close, and it can result in serious spinal injuries. The birth defect is one of the most common, with a worldwide incidence of between one and two cases for each 1,000 births. The incidence in the United States is 0.7 per 1,000 births.

Paul Greenberg is a Chicago birth injury lawyer and birth injury attorney with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit

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Northwest Community Hospital’s Top Doctor Had No Medical License

The chief medical officer at the Chicago-area Northwest Community Hospital did not have a license to practice medicine during his entire eight-year tenure.

Dr. Leighton Smith was chief medical officer at the hospital until he left the position on June 1. Smith was responsible for setting policy and managing the staff. Records show his medical license expired in 1999.

With the top doctor lacking a license to practice medicine, some may question the quality of care at Northwest Community, and the situation could affect medical malpractice cases, especially if a hospital policy is alleged to have resulted in negligence.

This is only the latest challenge for the hospital, which has struggled to remain profitable. Although the 496-bed hospital took in $520 million in revenue in 2011, it has not had an operating gain for the past three years. Northwest was once the Chicago area’s seventh-biggest hospital, but it has since dropped out of the top 10 as other area hospitals expand their market share.

Smith denied that his departure was related to his lack of a medical license, and hospital officials said they knew his license was expired when they hired him. A chief medical officer is an administrative position that is not directly involved in the treatment of patients. The State of Illinois does not require chief medical officers to have a license to practice medicine.

According to a report in the Chicago Tribune, Smith received a salary of $785,000 in 2010.

Robert Briskman is a Chicago medical malpractice lawyer and Chicago medical malpractice attorney with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit

Changes to Workers’ Compensation Have Not Saved Businesses Money

To date, there is scant evidence that changes in workers’ compensation laws have resulted in decreased costs for Illinois businesses. State lawmakers passed legislation in 2011 curtailing workers’ comp claims, predicting that the changes would save Illinois businesses hundreds of millions of dollars.

Before the new law, Illinois ranked third in the country in workers’ compensation rates, according to a 2010 study by the government of Oregon. Nearby states have much lower rates of compensation, with neighboring Indiana ranking 50th in the nation. Indiana officials cite lower taxes and lower workers’ compensation rates as reasons for businesses to locate there.

Business officials and a spokesperson from the Workers’ Compensation Commission said that the changes in the law would take time to produce savings for Illinois businesses, but some business owners predict that the effect on their bottom lines will not be significant.

The new legislation made several changes to workers’ comp laws, including cutting medical fee schedules and capping wage differential awards. Licensed attorneys have been hired as new arbitrators to decide workers’ compensation cases. New positions and systems have also been introduced in an effort to prevent fraud.

The new rules also call for the establishment of a preferred provider organization (PPO) system for workers’ comp claims. Development of the PPO program is in progress. Officials had originally claimed that the reduction in the medical fee schedules would provide the greatest savings to businesses, but the Workers’ Compensation Commission now says that most of the financial benefits will come from the PPO program.

Paul Greenberg is a Chicago workers’ compensation attorney and Chicago workers compensation lawyer with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit

Computer Programmer Who Murdered His Wife Ordered to Pay $60 Million to Children

A noted computer programmer convicted of murdering his wife must pay his children $60 million, a California jury has ruled. Hans Reiser, whose Namesys company developed widely-used software, was convicted of murdering his Russian wife Nina in 2008. Now, a civil wrongful death lawsuit has determined that he must compensate his children for the damage he has caused them.

Attorneys for the children had asked Alameda County jurors to award $15 million for each child. The jury deliberated for two days and decided to go further, awarding $25 million to each child, plus $10 million in damages.

Reiser was sentenced to 15 years to life for murdering his wife in their home in the Oakland Hills. She went missing in September of 2006, and Reiser was charged with murder one month later. In a plea agreement, Reiser showed police where he had buried the body in exchange for his charge being reduced from first-degree murder to second-degree murder.

Reiser led police to his wife’s remains, which were in a shallow grave about a half mile from their home. In the civil trial, he represented himself, claiming that the killing of his wife was justified for the protection of their children. He claimed that his wife suffered from a variety of illnesses, including Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome, in which parents cause their children to become sick or injured in order to draw attention to themselves. Authorities said there was no evidence to support Reiser’s claims.

Robert Briskman is a Chicago wrongful death attorney and Chicago wrongful death lawyer with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit

Use of Electronic Records Results in Fewer Malpractice Claims

According to a new study, doctors who switch to using electronic records are less likely to be sued for medical malpractice than doctors who continue to use paper records.

The findings were surprising to some observers, who had been concerned that errors would become more common as doctors begin using unfamiliar systems. However, the study, which was authored by Dr. Steven Simon of the VA Boston Healthcare System, found that the use of electronic patient records was linked to an 84 percent lower chance of a medical malpractice lawsuit.

There are other factors that may play a role in the decision of medical professionals to use electronic records, including the possibility that the electronic information trail may lead to a greater degree of scrutiny in a lawsuit.

Simon said that approximately one-third of doctors use electronic records, allowing different doctors treating the same patient to access each other’s notes and check prescription information. Some systems include additional technology for the protection of patients, such as a warning that is given if a prescription is contraindicated because of its interaction with another medicine the patient is taking.

To conduct the study, researchers took a survey of 275 doctors in Massachusetts during 2005 and 2007 to ask whether they had started using electronic health records. They then compared that information to medical malpractice claims against the doctors. They counted 49 claims in the absence of electronic records and two claims after the adoption of an electronic system.

Paul Greenberg is a Chicago medical malpractice lawyer and Chicago medical malpractice attorney with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit

Hospital Sued for Child’s Erb’s Palsy

A lawsuit has been filed in Cook County Circuit Court, claiming medical negligence in the case of a baby with Erb’s palsy. The parents are suing the doctors and the hospital where the baby was delivered, saying that they are at fault for the child’s condition.

Alexander and Aracely Colon filed the lawsuit on behalf of their child, Elijah, on November 21, 2011. Saint Joseph Hospital is a defendant in the lawsuit, along with other medical personnel.

According to the lawsuit, Elijah experienced shoulder dystocia during delivery, a situation in which the infant’s head is stuck behind the mother’s pubic bone, and the medical personnel failed to recognize what was happening.

Shoulder dystocia is considered to be a medical emergency, requiring certain medical protocols to be followed in order to ensure a safe delivery, including a Caesarean section, if other maneuvers are unsuccessful.

The lawsuit claims that the defendants deviated from hospital protocol by failing to perform the procedures that would have protected the infant’s health. In addition to claiming that the doctor failed to perform a C-section, the lawsuit also alleges he should not have applied traction to the head and neck of the infant.

The birth injury lawsuit alleges that the traction applied to the infant’s head caused permanent damage to the brachial plexus nerves, and caused him to be afflicted with Erb’s Palsy. The affliction is a permanent condition that causes weakness in the upper arms and hands.

Contact a Chicago medical malpractice attorney and Chicago birth injury lawyer with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit

Smart Car Will Turn Off Cell Phone When It Senses Stress

Ford is developing technology that will limit access to a driver’s cell phone but only when it senses that traffic is heavy and the driver is experiencing stress. The smart car will use sonar and radar to measure traffic levels. Biometric sensors in the steering wheel and seat will measure body temperature and other indicators of stress. When the car senses that traffic is heavy and the driver is stressed, inbound calls will be directed to voicemail, and text messages will not be announced.

The states vary in the restrictions they place on drivers’ cell phone use, with some prohibiting any use of handheld devices while driving and others having no restrictions. In Illinois, cell phone use is prohibited in construction areas and school zones, and drivers under the age of 19 may not use their phones while on the road. Commercial drivers may not use handheld devices while driving. The City of Chicago and some other municipalities have banned the use of handheld devices while driving.

As governments have moved to restrict cell phone use, automakers have been introducing technology that connects electronic devices with the automobile, so that the car can alert the driver to incoming calls or read text messages aloud. Ford’s approach is based on the idea that some situations are particularly dangerous.

Ford’s biometric steering wheel measures the driver’s heart rate, using the same technology found in gym equipment. Infrared sensors measure the driver’s body temperature, and the seat belt contains a piezoelectric sensor to detect the driver’s rate of breathing.

The new technology also measures traffic flow around the vehicle, using tools already available on current vehicles. There is a front-facing camera that measures traffic density in the lanes ahead and a blind spot detection device that uses sonar.

Another set of sensors measures the controls of the automobile itself: speed, acceleration, braking activity and steering wheel position. Lateral acceleration and yaw rate (changing lanes and turning corners) are also measured.

The combination of sensors is used to determine whether a particular driving situation requires the motorist’s full attention. The technology can then temporarily disable access to the driver’s handheld device. The system will use an algorithm to determine whether the combination of traffic conditions and the driver’s stress level indicates that a distraction may be particularly dangerous at that moment.

The new technology builds on Ford’s existing MyKey system, developed for younger drivers. MyKey allows parents to program a vehicle to block text messages and phone calls while the car is in motion and limit the car’s top speed and top radio volume. In addition, if the front seat passengers don’t buckle their safety belts, the audio system is muted.

Contact a Chicago car accident lawyer or Chicago wrongful death attorney with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit

Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed in Taxi Fatality Case

The brother of an elderly woman who was struck and killed by a taxi last year has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver and the taxi company. The collision occurred on August 22, 2011 in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago.

The lawsuit claims that the taxi driver failed to yield to the female pedestrian as she walked across Sheridan Road. The taxi was attempting to turn left onto Sheridan when the woman was struck. The injured woman was transported to the hospital, where she died the next day.

The taxi driver received two citations from police, for failure to use due care and failure to yield. According to the Chicago Tribune, the driver had been issued numerous citations in the past, but they had been dismissed.

The deceased woman’s brother is seeking damages for the loss of his sister’s love, support and companionship. The lawsuit demands more than $100,000 from each defendant.

According to the advocacy group Transportation for America, 1,659 pedestrians were killed in the state of Illinois between 2000 and 2009, costing the state $7.13 billion. Nationwide, 47,000 pedestrians lost their lives in the same time period. Transportation for America issues a Pedestrian Danger Index, which ranks Illinois as number 27 out of 50 states.

Paul Greenberg is a wrongful death attorney and Chicago wrongful death lawyer with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit

Illinois Mother Sues Hospital for Negligence

An Illinois woman has filed a lawsuit over a birth injury that her daughter suffered during delivery, which resulted in the death of the child. The suit was filed in Cook County Circuit Court by Bianca Hernandez against two doctors and one nurse of the Northshore University Health System. The suit claims the birth injury was the result of medical malpractice.

The lawsuit alleges doctors failed to perform a Caesarean section, resulting in the death of the child, named Emma. The suit seeks significant damages for, among other things, loss of society, loss of companionship, loss of consortium and loss of affection.

According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff was admitted to Northshore in April, 2010. She claims that the attending physicians failed to follow the standard procedures used by obstetricians in situations similar to hers. The lawsuit further claims that while the fetus was in distress, and displaying an abnormal heart rate, the doctors did not perform a C-section, and failed to order protocols for intrauterine resuscitation to ensure the well-being of the fetus.

Although the fetus was eventually delivered by emergency C-section, the child had experienced birth injuries that later proved fatal.

A nurse is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit, as the plaintiff claims that she failed to properly gauge the intensity of the contractions during delivery, and failed to communicate crucial information to the attending physicians. The lawsuit claims that the child suffered Pitocin-related injuries.

Contact a Chicago medical malpractice attorney and Chicago birth injury lawyer with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit

The Value of a Personal Injury Case Depends on Many Factors

Personal injury lawsuits are commonly filed in cases regarding car accidents or injuries suffered on the premises of a place of business, an apartment building or someone’s home. If you are considering this kind of lawsuit, it is important to understand the factors that play a role in calculating damages.

The term “damages” simply refers to the loss the injury has caused you. Damages can include, among other things, financial harm in the form of lost wages and medical bills and intangible harm such as pain and suffering. A lawsuit determines what compensation you are owed because of the economic, physical or mental harm you have suffered.

In a personal injury lawsuit, the injured person is the plaintiff, who files suit against the person or company that is legally responsible for the injury (i.e., the defendant or an insurance company). During the discovery process, both sides learn what evidence may be presented to a judge or jury. The vast majority of cases are resolved by a negotiated settlement, but it is sometimes necessary to take a case to trial. In either case, the amount of the settlement or verdict depends on a number of factors.

The primary category of damages in a personal injury lawsuit is compensatory damages, which are intended to make the plaintiff whole by providing monetary compensation for an injury. Some damages, such as medical expenses or property damage, are fairly simple to calculate. But other damages, such as pain and suffering, are not as easy to determine. Compensatory damages can also include loss of income, emotional distress and loss of enjoyment. When the spouse of the injured person is a plaintiff, damages can include loss of consortium.

Monetary awards in a personal injury lawsuit can also include punitive damages, which are awarded when the defendant’s behavior is judged to be not merely negligent but particularly egregious or reckless. The purpose of punitive damages is to punish the defendant and deter such conduct by others.

Damages may be reduced based on the plaintiff’s conduct. The State of Illinois is a modified comparative negligence jurisdiction. Comparative negligence refers to situations when the plaintiff shares fault for an injury, for instance when two drivers each make errors that contribute to a collision. Under the law of modified comparative negligence, an injured party can only be compensated if he or she is less than 50 percent responsible for the injury, and the amount of damages that can be awarded are determined by the percentage that each party contributed to the injury.

Paul Greenberg is a Chicago personal injury lawyer and Chicago personal injury attorney with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit

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The Chicago Illinois personal injury law firm of Briskman Briskman & Greenberg represents injured people throughout Illinois, including Chicago, the Chicagoland area, Joliet, Waukegan, Cicero, Evanston, Arlington Heights, Wheaton, Bolingbrook, and Naperville, as well as other cities within Cook County, Will County, DuPage County, Lake County and McHenry County.
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