Briskman Briskman & Greenberg Chicago personal injury lawyers Tue, 28 Jul 2015 01:03:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Chicago personal injury lawyers Briskman Briskman & Greenberg no Chicago personal injury lawyers Briskman Briskman & Greenberg Ford and Nissan Announce Recalls and Obama Administration Proposes NHTSA Budget Increase – Podcast Mon, 29 Jun 2015 17:54:30 +0000 Ford and Nissan are collectively recalling almost a million trucks and vans. Plus the Obama administration proposes a budget increase for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on this month’s Chicago Injury Alert.

]]> 0 Ford and Nissan are collectively recalling almost a million trucks and vans. Plus the Obama administration proposes a budget increase for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on this month's Chicago Injury Alert. Ford and Nissan are collectively recalling almost a million trucks and vans. Plus the Obama administration proposes a budget increase for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on this month's Chicago Injury Alert. Briskman Briskman & Greenberg no 3:12
Chicago Bicyclist Fatalities Increase in 2014 Fri, 26 Jun 2015 17:26:59 +0000 Last year in Chicago, seven bicyclists were killed in collisions with automobiles. That is an increase from three bicyclist fatalities in 2013, even as Mayor Rahm Emanuel has pledged to make Chicago the most bike-friendly city in the country.

According to the Chicago Department of Transportation, bicyclist fatalities over the past five years were as follows: seven in 2014; three in 2013; eight in 2012; seven in 2011; and five in 2010. With regard to bicyclist injuries from auto collisions, data from 2014 was not yet available. However, there were 1,567 bicyclist injuries in 2013; 1,479 in 2012; 1,279 in 2011; and 1,566 in 2010.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has said that by May of 2015, he wants Chicago to install 100 miles of protected bike lanes. According to Rebekah Scheinfeld, the Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner, the city is on track to meet that goal, with 85.5 miles of protected bike lanes installed as of January. She said that the remaining 14.5 miles of bike lanes would be installed in the spring of 2015. “Protected” bike lanes refers to bike lanes that are separated from automobile traffic lanes by a barrier.

Scheinfeld called the increase in bicyclist deaths “significant” and said that any traffic death is one too many. She said that Chicago had launched a “Zero in Ten” campaign to eliminate all bicycle, pedestrian and overall traffic deaths by 2020. To achieve that goal, Sheinfeld said that the city would continue to invest in barrier-protected bike lanes and increase target enforcement efforts.

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The attack on workers’ compensation Fri, 05 Jun 2015 11:25:28 +0000

Over the past decade, workers’ compensation benefits have deteriorated across the country as states initiate cost-cutting measures. A comprehensive new investigation by ProPublica and NPR reveals that these workers’ comp “reforms” have had a brutal effect: injured workers denied the help they need and taxpayers forced to bear the cost of workplace accidents.

The ProPublica report, titled The Demolition of Workers’ Comp, states that cutbacks in many states have been so drastic, they “virtually guarantee” that injured workers will descend into poverty. According to the nonprofit news organization, workers’ comp reform has been pushed by insurance companies and big corporations based on the “false premise” that costs are too high — when in fact employers are currently paying the lowest premiums for workers’ compensation insurance since the 1970s.

Meanwhile, 2013 (the most recently studied year) was the most profitable year for insurers in more than 10 years.

The changes are different in each state, but ProPublica documents that since 2003, the legislatures of 33 states have passed laws either reducing worker’s comp benefits or making it more difficult for injured workers to qualify for them. According to the report, workers in 37 states are not able to choose their own doctor or must choose from a list of doctors pre-approved by their employers. In 22 states, there are now arbitrary time limits on temporary wage benefits for injured workers, even if they have not recovered yet.

In California, insurers may now reopen old cases and take away workers’ benefits based on the opinions of doctors. Those doctors are not required to have ever examined the patient, and they do not have to be licensed in the state.

In Illinois, as in other states, workers’ compensation reforms were passed with the promise that they would reduce costs for employers, making the state more attractive to businesses. In 2011, Illinois:

  • reduced payments to hospitals and doctors on medical fee schedules by 30 percent
  • limited the ability of some workers to choose their own doctors
  • raised the burden of proof for workers who have suffered an injury to qualify for workers’ comp
  • created a presumption that a second opinion or medical review sought by an insurer or employer is correct if it is based on certain treatment guidelines
  • created a cap for wage-loss benefits if workers take a lower-paying job five years after the injury or at age 67, whichever is later
  • limited benefits for carpal tunnel syndrome
  • required disability awards to be determined by new guidelines from the American Medical Association, which results in lower ratings used for compensation.

As Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has proposed further “reforms” to the workers’ compensation system, we should be wary of allowing our state to participate in a “race to the bottom,” sacrificing workers’ rights for business profits.

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

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$20.6 million jury award upheld in birth injury case Wed, 03 Jun 2015 11:15:03 +0000 A final appeal has been rejected by a state supreme court, allowing the plaintiffs in a birth injury lawsuit to receive a jury award of $20.6 million to care for their son, who has severe disabilities.

The original verdict, in 2012, found that events during the child’s delivery caused oxygen deprivation, resulting in his disabilities.

According to the lawsuit, the mother was admitted to the hospital in September 2002, when she was 32 weeks pregnant. The hospital staff decided to induce labor because high blood pressure had been detected in both the mother and fetus, which is a risk factor. Doctors detected a drop in the oxygen levels of the baby during the labor induction, but they did not perform an emergency cesarean section. Instead, labor and delivery continued from another three hours, the lawsuit claimed.

According to the suit, the baby was born with the mother’s umbilical cord wrapped around his neck. He had been deprived of oxygen for some time. The child later received a diagnosis of a type of cerebral palsy, which affects both mental and physical development. Patients with this type of cerebral palsy usually have difficulty walking and experience stiffness in the legs and hips.

The plaintiffs claimed that the child required multiple surgeries and will be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. The jury upheld the original ruling, banishing the hospital’s appeals and finalizing the award to the family.

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

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Doctor faces investigation after three infant deaths, birth injury lawsuit Mon, 01 Jun 2015 11:11:53 +0000 An obstetrician who is now under investigation by a state medical board after the deaths of three babies in home deliveries was also the defendant in a recent birth injury lawsuit that never resolved clearly.

The parents of a child who suffered a disability filed the birth injury suit in 2007. The lawsuit alleged that the girl, who was born in October 2005, suffered a permanent disability to her left arm due to the doctor’s negligence. According to the lawsuit, the doctor let the labor go on too long and failed to perform a cesarean section when the birth was complicated by shoulder dystocia.

Shoulder dystocia is a condition where the baby’s shoulders become lodged in the birth canal.

According to the lawsuit, the doctor continued to use a vacuum extractor and forceps after the failure of an initial attempt, when such use was contraindicated. The doctor also moved forward with a vaginal delivery despite an abnormal first and second states of labor and despite the presence of multiple other risk factors, the suit claimed.

The lawsuit claimed that the child will suffer from physical pain and mental suffering for the rest of her life and needed compensation. According to the plaintiff’s attorney, the doctor did not respond to the lawsuit, and a default judgment was entered against him. The plaintiff’s attorney would not comment on whether a settlement was reached in the case.

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

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Though Illinois benefits are among the best, worker protections are facing a nationwide rollback Sun, 31 May 2015 11:10:40 +0000 Workers’ compensation benefits vary greatly from state to state, with benefits in Illinois among the strongest, according to a new report by ProPublica.

The report, entitled Insult to Injury, shows that each state’s schedule of benefits, which place a dollar value on the loss of specific body parts. By this measure, workers’ compensation benefits in Illinois are stronger than in many other states. For examples, the loss of an arm is worth up to $439,858 in Illinois, but only $193,950 in Ohio and $48,840 in Alabama.

The ProPublica report states that in addition to the wild variation in benefit amounts from state to state, protections for injured workers are facing a nationwide rollback. That is already true in Illinois, where workers’ compensation “reform,” passed in 2011, has limited workers’ rights. Governor Bruce Rauner recently said that further reform is needed.

According to an investigation by ProPublica and NPR, dozens of states have slashed benefits after employers and insurers lobbied for reduced costs. Employer rates for workers’ comp have reached their lowest since the 1970s.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also released a report that found that when workers’ compensation benefits fall short, the vast majority of the cost of an injury, in terms of lost income and medical care, is borne by the families of injured workers and by American taxpayers.

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

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Workers’ comp reform only helps insurance companies Sat, 30 May 2015 11:07:48 +0000 Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner has said that he wants further “reform” of the state’s workers’ compensation system, with the stated goal of reducing the cost of doing business in the state.

This argument — that restricting the rights of workers will help businesses by reducing the premiums they pay for workers’ compensation insurance — has been contradicted by two recent studies by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and NPR/Pro Publica. Those studies showed that any cost savings from recent reforms have mostly benefited insurance companies.

This was the demonstrable case in Illinois, where a workers’ compensation reform package was passed into law in 2011. The Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services studied the results and found that while there was a steep drop in workers’ compensation rates — a 24 percent decrease between 2012 and 2014 — there was no corresponding drop in insurance premiums paid by employers. Instead, the insurance companies kept the difference, estimated to be between $625 million and $1 billion.

Attacking employees’ right to compensation hurts workers, and it does not help employers. Workers’ rights must be protected from further so-called “reforms,” and employers who are fed up with the high cost of insurance should support state regulation of insurance premiums.

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

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Patient files medical malpractice lawsuit over alleged failure to treat infection Thu, 28 May 2015 11:02:09 +0000 A medical malpractice lawsuit has been filed against an Illinois doctor and a medical center by a patient who alleges that her foot infection was not properly treated.

Rebecca Merrill filed the lawsuit in Madison County Circuit Court on March 3, against a medical center in southern Illinois and a Highland doctor. The lawsuit claims that after Merrill had surgery on her broken left foot on August 13, 2012, an infection developed but was not properly treated. According to the lawsuit, the infection required further surgery and caused permanent disfigurement. As a result, the patient has been left with a severe disability and the future possibility of the loss of her foot entirely, the lawsuit claims.

The lawsuit alleges that the infection was diagnosed on November 21, 2012, but the defendants did not treat the infection. According to the suit, because of the delay in treatment, Merrill required further surgery to remove joint hardware, leaving her disabled and with her ankle disfigured. Merrill claims in the lawsuit that her ankle now has a “grotesque appearance” and that her functionality is severely limited.

Misdiagnosis and failure to provide proper treatment are among the most common types of medical malpractice.

The lawsuit seeks damages of more than $100,000, plus costs. The case number is Madison County Circuit Court number 15-L-282.

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

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Delayed MRI Results in Twenty-Eight Million Dollar Award – Podcast Wed, 27 May 2015 22:30:37 +0000 After requesting an MRI, a young patient is denied one for 4 months allowing a tumor to continue growing. Find out the details of this medical practice lawsuit on this month’s Chicago Injury Alert.

]]> 0 After requesting an MRI, a young patient is denied one for 4 months allowing a tumor to continue growing. Find out the details of this medical practice lawsuit on this month's Chicago Injury Alert. After requesting an MRI, a young patient is denied one for 4 months allowing a tumor to continue growing. Find out the details of this medical practice lawsuit on this month's Chicago Injury Alert. Briskman Briskman & Greenberg no 2:12
“A code of silence”: Lawsuit filed over teen’s death at police hands in 2014 Tue, 26 May 2015 23:58:20 +0000 The mother of a teenager who was shot and killed by police on Chicago’s West Side has filed a federal wrongful death lawsuit against the force.

Roshad McIntosh was killed in August 2014. At a news conference, his mother, Cynthia Lane, said that police have not revealed the names of the officers who fired the shots that killed him, nor whether they have been disciplined or are still on duty. The lawsuit alleges that McIntosh was killed without provocation, and it further claims that authorities have since tried to cover up the incident.

According to the lawsuit, which names as defendants two “John Doe” police officers as well as the city of Chicago, McIntosh was unarmed when police officers chased him with weapons drawn. The lawsuit claims that officers chased McIntosh into a backyard, where he surrendered, but the officers shot and killed him without response.

Police claim that McIntosh had a 9mm handgun that he pointed at officers, leaving the officers no choice but to fire their weapons. McIntosh was pronounced dead at Mount Sinai Hospital.

The lawsuit also claims civil rights violations, alleging that policies of the Chicago Police Department have led to racially-motivated shootings of black men and a “code of silence” when it comes to investigating and disciplining officers.

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

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Wrongful death lawsuit filed against Chicago-area trucking company Mon, 25 May 2015 23:48:29 +0000 A surviving relative of a woman and two children who died in a truck crash has filed a wrongful death lawsuit.

Marciela Ruiz has filed the suit on behalf of her three late family members, Elizabeth Peralta-Luna and her children (a girl, age 9, and a boy, 4). Ruiz is accusing Monson and Sons Inc., a trucking company, and Zachary Barngrover, the driver of the truck with neglience. The lawsuit was filed in Cook County.

The accident took place March 6, 2015. According to the complaint, the woman and her children were walking to a bus stop in the Back of the Yards neighborhood when they were hit by a semitrailer driven by Barngrover. The plaintiff’s attorneys say that the three had just left a mobile technology store, where Peralta-Luna purchased a cellphone for her daughter. Also according to the plaintiff’s attorneys, the lawsuit was filed (somewhat unusually) quickly in order to gain access to evidence and enable subpoenas to be issued. The lawsuit seeks damages in excess of $50,000.

According to authorities, Bargrover hit the victims while making a left turn onto Ashland Avenue from 43rd Street. Upon arrest, he was cited for making an improper left turn and failing to exercise caution with a pedestrian in the roadway. He was released with a promise to appear in court. A police investigation is ongoing.

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

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Study Finds Distracted Driving Repercussions Underestimated for Teens Sun, 24 May 2015 11:31:27 +0000 Parents who worry about their teens texting and driving may be more right than they know. A traffic safety foundation analyzed nearly 1,700 videos of teens driving and found that distracted driving was more of a factor in crashes than previously thought.

The study, conducted by the University of Iowa and funded by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, found that distractions such as texting, talking with passengers and grooming played a role in almost 60 percent of moderate-to-severe teen car crashes. Previously, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had estimated that 14 percent of teen crashes involved distraction.

The foundation analyzed in-car videos from the six seconds prior to 1,691 crashes where a teenage driver was behind the wheel. The crashes happened between August 2007 and July 2013 and took place mostly in the Midwest, the researchers said.

Researchers said the in-car videos provided data that was previously unavailable.

It is possible that distracted driving among teens is even more prevalent than indicated by the study, because all of the teens knew they were being filmed. Some may have limited their distracting activities because of that fact. Researchers said that the study provides indisputable evidence that distraction is a major factor in teen crashes. However, they did caution that the study represents only one set of data, and that more research is needed.

According to Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, Illinois’ graduated licensing laws for teens are among the strongest in the nation, and they are already more restrictive than what is recommended by AAA.

Paul Greenberg is a Chicago car accident lawyer with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit

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Patient Safety Initiatives Needed to Reduce Medical Malpractice in Pregnancy Treatment and Childbirth Fri, 22 May 2015 11:24:08 +0000 Medical mistakes cause an astonishing number of deaths and serious injuries every year. According to reliable estimates, medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States, behind heart disease and cancer. There are evidence-based protocols that can greatly reduce the number of errors, but many health care providers prefer to expend energy denouncing medical malpractice lawsuits instead of focusing on patient safety initiatives that could save lives.

A new report on obstetric safety from Public Citizen shows both the seriousness of the problem and the degree to which safety initiatives can make a difference.

Obstetrics are an important area to focus on, because obstetric malpractice can have exceptionally terrible impacts on mothers and children. Thus, it accounts for a large portion of high-profile medical malpractice lawsuits.

According to the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, there were over 157,000 injuries to newborns and mothers caused by preventable errors in just one year. Good practices make a difference, as shown in the variance in results from hospital to hospital. A study found that low-performing hospitals were two to five times more likely to have unexpected delivery complications than high-performing hospitals.

The steps needed to reduce medical errors are not complicated. They are, furthermore, relatively inexpensive to implement, if health care providers have the will to make changes. One of the simplest steps is improving communication among the obstetric team, including creating systems to articulate the most common errors. Data also supports discouraging induction of birth prior to 39 weeks gestation without a medical reason and reducing unnecessary cesarean sections.

As long as medical errors exist, there will be medical malpractice lawsuits. Doctors and hospitals could reduce both — and save patients’ lives — by focusing on safety first.

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

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$28 million verdict in medical malpractice case Fri, 22 May 2015 04:59:47 +0000 A jury awarded a patient $28 million in a recent medical malpractice case.

The jury awarded $28,215,278.00 to Anna Rahm for pain and suffering, for future loss of earnings and for future medical expenses after a four-week trial. The jury found Kaiser Permanente liable for improper medical treatment that resulted in Rahm losing parts of her spine, half of her pelvis and her right leg.

According to the lawsuit, in 2008, at the age of 16, Rahm began experiencing pain in her lower back, which later radiated to her right leg. She pursued chiropractic treatment, which was unsuccessful, and then sought an MRI at Kaiser Permanente. Rahm claimed that, accompanied by her mother, she saw a primary care physician and a physical medicine specialist at Kaiser Permanente and requested an MRI.

She alleged in the lawsuit that the doctors refused to order an MRI and refused to document the request. The doctors claimed at trial that no MRI was ever requested.

An MRI was eventually performed on July 2, 2009, and it revealed an osteosarcoma (an aggressive tumor) in Rahm’s pelvis. She required surgery that resulted in the loss of her leg and of portions of her pelvis and spine. Rahm’s lawsuit argued that the hospital’s refusal to perform an MRI resulted in a four-month delay in diagnosing the tumor, which in turn caused the loss of her leg.

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

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Google to Launch Car Insurance Comparison Site in Illinois Mon, 04 May 2015 11:37:40 +0000 Google plans to launch a car insurance comparison site in Illinois, which is expected to have a disruptive effect on the industry.

The internet search giant launched Google Compare on March 5 in California only. The company’s plans call for pilots in Illinois, Pennsylvania, California and Texas within the first quarter of the year, and the overall program has been cleared to operate in a total of 26 states at the time of this release.

The pilot program will be a test for Google to see if the service can continue to expand. However, Google Compare has operated in the United Kingdom since 2012, so the program itself is hardly new.

Google will offer insurance policies from major carriers and earn a commission on sales. Google Compare has already obtained authorization to offer policies from MetLife, Dairyland, Mercury, Workmen’s, and Viking Insurance of Wisconsin, with more to follow.

According to industry analysts, car insurers may have reason to be wary of Google’s entry into the market. On one hand, the service will provide another platform for sales. On the other, the company will be adding insurance information to its already massive amounts of data on consumers, which could give Google an advantage in terms of underwriting. Analysts also said that Google’s existing search data could be used to build risk profiles for individual consumers.

In addition, insurance companies may be concerned that Google’s new website will insert itself between consumers and insurers, disconnecting traditional insurance companies from their customers.

For consumers, the new site may be a boon from every angle, allowing them to compare and shop much more quickly. One popular insurance advertising slogan promises to save consumers money in just 15 minutes. Another claims to cut that in half. But Google aims to do the same in a matter of seconds.

Paul Greenberg is a Chicago car accident lawyer with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit

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Department of Transportation Releases Traffic Accident Statistics Fri, 01 May 2015 11:34:13 +0000 The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) has released a final report on traffic accidents for 2013, showing that traffic accidents and fatalities increased that year. Fortunately, the preliminary statistics for 2014 already show a decline in those fatalities.

The report, “2013 Illinois Crash Facts and Statistics,” detailed an important series of facts:

  • There were 285,477 Illinois traffic collisions in 2013.
  • In Chicago, there were 79,384 car crashes.
  • Of all these crashes, 21.4 percent involved an injury.
  • Less than 1 percent involved a fatality.
  • During 2013, there were 991 fatalities in 895 fatal crashes.
  • Of the people who died, 152 were motorcyclists, 125 were pedestrians and 30 were bicyclists.
  • The report states that excessive speed was involved in 35 percent of the fatal crashes.
  • Deer were involved in 5.4 percent of all crashes.

Although 2013 had the highest number of fatalities since 2008, the year did maintain a trend of traffic deaths below 1,000 per year in the state. This trend stands in stark contrast to the 1990s through the mid-2000s, when annual traffic fatalities ranged from 1,300 to more than 1,500.

According to the report, more crashes happen on weekdays. Each weekday in 2013 saw more than 40,000 accidents, while Saturday and Sunday saw 38,796 crashes and 33,403 crashes, respectively. Friday had the most accidents, with 47,527.

The greatest number of accidents took place during the afternoon and evening. The time period from 4 p.m. to 7:59 p.m. saw 77,088 accidents. There were 71,547 accidents in the time period from 12 p.m. to 3:59 p.m.

Paul Greenberg is a Chicago car accident lawyer with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit

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The Most Dangerous Jobs in America – Podcast Thu, 30 Apr 2015 19:53:18 +0000 American workplaces are safer now than half a century ago. But some employees are still at great risk of injury. This month’s Chicago Injury Alert explores the most dangerous jobs in America.

]]> 0 American workplaces are safer now than half a century ago. But some employees are still at great risk of injury. This month's Chicago Injury Alert explores the most dangerous jobs in America. American workplaces are safer now than half a century ago. But some employees are still at great risk of injury. This month's Chicago Injury Alert explores the most dangerous jobs in America. Briskman Briskman & Greenberg no 3:45
It’s time to gaurantee responsibility: medical malpractice insurance should be required for Illinois doctors and hospitals Thu, 30 Apr 2015 11:31:28 +0000 When drivers get behind the wheel, it is possible that they could cause injuries to others. So, the law rightly requires them to carry insurance. When doctors and hospitals make medical mistakes, they can cause life-altering injuries and even death to their patients, so it is only reasonable that they be required to carry professional liability insurance to cover the cost of damages. However, in Illinois, unlike most states, there is no such statutory requirement.

It is a basic principle of our legal system that negligent parties should not be able to evade responsibility for the damages they cause. Yet the lack of a legal requirement for medical malpractice insurance means that individual doctors and even some hospitals can choose to “go bare,” or purposely choose to forgo carrying insurance. These practitioners may form a corporation and then file for bankruptcy – or threaten to file – if they are sued, leaving injured patients with no recourse.

The vast majority of medical professionals in Illinois do carry insurance. Most hospitals and many managed care plans require it. However, the lack of a state legal requirement means that some patients will not be able to obtain compensation if a medial error causes them injury.

The state of Illinois does not keep records of how many doctors are uninsured. In Florida, another state that does not require such insurance, about 5 percent of doctors choose to go bare. However, Florida requires doctors without insurance to obtain an irrevocable line of credit to cover malpractice claims and to post a notice in their offices informing patients that they do not have insurance. Illinois has no such requirements. Doctors and hospitals may claim that they are self-insured, meaning that they have sufficient resources to cover malpractice claims, but when a lawsuit is filed, they may still threaten bankruptcy.

Doctors cite the high cost of medical malpractice premiums as the reason they forgo insurance. Premiums are indeed high, and at least part of the blame lies with the insurance companies. Insurers often claim that they are forced to raise premiums because of high payouts in medical malpractice lawsuits, but in fact, they have raised rates out of proportion to payouts – and even increased premiums when paid claims are declining.

If insurance companies are fleecing doctors, state regulation of insurers can resolve the conflict. However, this injustice, however real, should not be used as an excuse to allow medical professionals to evade their responsibilities. Illinois should join other states in requiring all doctors and hospitals practicing in the state to carry medical malpractice insurance.

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

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Distracted Driving: It’s Not Just Texting Wed, 29 Apr 2015 21:01:21 +0000 Distracted driving is deadly, and texting while driving is not the only problem. While many people are aware of the dangers of cell phone use while driving, there are several other types of distractions that can be equally dangerous.

According to a report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,331 people were killed in automobile crashes involving distracted driving in 2011. An additional 387,000 were injured. Other researchers say the actual number is likely much higher, as many crashes are caused by distractions that the driver does not admit to.

Cell phones are a big part of the problem, to be sure. A researcher at the University of Utah found that a cell phone conversation can make a driver four times more likely to crash — about the same risk as drunk driving. Texting is even more dangerous. A 2009 study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration of commercial vehicle accidents found that text messaging made a crash 23 times more likely.

A great deal of attention is paid to the danger of cell phone use while driving, and rightly so. But there are other types of distraction that you may not have considered. These include eating food or drinking beverages in the car, grooming, talking with vehicle passengers, attending to pets or children in the car, and simple inattention.

Experts say that there are three main categories of distraction: manual, visual and cognitive. Manual distractions include anything drivers do with their hands other than driving, like reaching for a soda or changing the radio station. Visual distractions are anything that can cause the driver to look away from the road, such as looking at a map or reading a text message. Cognitive distractions include anything that takes one’s mind off the task of driving, such as a conversation with another occupant of the vehicle or with someone on the phone. An often-overlooked cognitive distraction is simple inattention, or daydreaming.

One reason texting while driving is so dangerous is that it distracts the driver in all three categories. When people send a text, they are usually manipulating the phone with their hands, looking at the phone and thinking about the message. It’s a deadly combination, and campaigns to put a stop to texting while driving are well worth the effort. But drivers also need to remember that anything that takes their mind, eyes or hands off the task of driving can be a deadly distraction.

If you were injured in an automobile accident, contact Briskman Briskman & Greenberg for a free consultation. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit

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Trial begins in birth injury lawsuit Wed, 29 Apr 2015 11:16:48 +0000 The trial has begun in a birth injury lawsuit accusing an obstetrician of medical malpractice. The parents of a seven-year-old boy allege that medical negligence during labor and delivery caused the boy to suffer oxygen deprivation and, consequently, cerebral palsy.

Allegedly, during labor, the mother was told to start pushing when the baby’s head was not positioned at the cervix, causing distress. According to the lawsuit, after the baby’s heart rate dropped, the doctor performed an emergency cesarean section. The lawsuit further states that the baby was born having inhaled meconium and unable to breathe, and that the doctor and nursing staff failed to clear his airway before attempting to use an oxygen mask to resuscitate the child. A doctor also removed the baby’s edotrachial tube for 45 minutes, according to the argument. 

The baby was stabilized and transported to a neonatal intensive care unit at another hospital.

According to the lawsuit, the oxygen deprivation caused the child to suffer from cerebral palsy, a neurological disorder that hinders coordination and body movement.

The parents are seeking $40 million in economic and noneconomic damages through the lawsuit. The defendants have denied wrongdoing. The trial is expected to last 14 days.

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

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Permanent disability claimed in birth injury lawsuit Tue, 28 Apr 2015 11:14:32 +0000 A birth injury lawsuit has been filed by a Pennsylvania mother (currently unnamed in the press), claiming that her son suffered grievous bodily harm as the result of a doctor’s negligence in 2012. The lawsuit was filed in federal court against the doctor and Delaware Valley Community Health, which was operating as Maria de los Santos Health Center at the time of the incident. 

The suit claims that medical malpractice occurred during labor and delivery, causing the child to suffer a permanent disability. The boy has been diagnosed with severe shoulder dystocia and a brachial plexus injury.

Prior to the delivery, an ultrasound indicated that the weight of the fetus was in the 53rd percentile. On June 17, 2012, the mother began experiencing labor contractions and went to the hospital. According to the lawsuit, two doctors who had been monitoring the mother recommended a cesarean section.  However, the doctor who delivered the baby performed a vacuum delivery. The lawsuit alleges that the doctor failed to perform his own pelvic and abdominal examination and relied instead on information given by other medical providers.

The lawsuit alleges that the doctor’s medical errors caused the baby’s injury. Despite surgery, the child is not expected to be able to use his left arm in the future. The lawsuit seeks compensation for past and future pain and suffering and for past and future medical expenses.

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

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Worker killed in Illinois crane accident Mon, 27 Apr 2015 11:12:12 +0000 On January 12, a worker was killed in a crane accident at an Illinois Taylor Crane construction site.

Justin Jokerst, 31, was working at a construction site in Edwardsville, Illinois on a Grove HL150T crane when he was crushed by the crane’s boom, according to authorities. The accident took place on Lakeview Corporate Drive at about 11 a.m.

Authorities pronounced Jokerst dead at the scene. An Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) investigation is underway. The building under construction is a 500,000-square-foot commercial warehouse addition off New Poag Road.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4,405 workers were killed on the job in 2013. This is the lowest total since the bureau’s fatal injury statistics began being kept in 1992, but at more than 12 deaths every day, it is still far too many.

Twenty percent of worker fatalities in 2013 happened in the construction field. The lead cause of construction fatalities was falls, which accounted for 36.9 percent of the total deaths in construction. The other three most common causes of construction deaths were being struck by an object, which accounted for 10.3 percent of the total; electrocutions (8.9 percent); and being caught in or between objects (2.6 percent).

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

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Illinois woman claims she was fired after filing workers’ compensation claim Fri, 24 Apr 2015 11:09:44 +0000 A former employee of an Illinois rehabilitation center has filed a lawsuit, claiming that she was fired after filing for workers’ compensation benefits.

Penny Lucas claims that she suffered an injury when she fell at work on December 27, 2012. She went to the hospital and was given a post-accident drug test, which came back negative, according to her lawsuit. However, the suit states that Atrium required Lucas to submit to another drug test on January 15. When the results of that drug test were allegedly found to be positive, Lucas demanded a retest, but was refused. She then paid for another drug test at a different hospital, for which the results were negative, the suit states.

The lawsuit further states that Atrium fired Lucas despite being notified of the discrepancy, and in violation of her rights under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act.

On January 14, 2015, Penny Lucas filed her lawsuit in St. Clair County Circuit Court against Cahokia’s Atrium Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center.

Lucas alleges that the job loss resulted in loss income and benefits, mental distress and emotional anguish. She is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, plus interest, attorney’s fees, costs and other relief in excess of $75,000.

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

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Illinois psychiatrist suspended after medical malpractice claims Thu, 23 Apr 2015 11:08:22 +0000 An Illinois psychiatrist has been suspended by the State of Illinois in response to medical malpractice claims levied against him.

The complaints against the psychiatrist include allegations that he engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct with patients and prescribed inappropriate medications.

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation issued a Notice of Temporary Suspension against the psychiatrist, stating that his Physician and Surgeon License and Illinois Controlled Substance License were temporarily suspended and that a hearing would be held to determine the truth of the charges against him. The psychiatrist will have the opportunity to present evidence in defense to the charges.

The complaint states that the psychiatrist inappropriately prescribed Percocet to a female patient despite his awareness of her history of prescription drug abuse. The complaint also alleges that the psychiatrist sent the patient sexual messages and photographs via mobile phone.

The complaint further states that the psychiatrist was previously suspended for inappropriate conduct when he practiced in Wisconsin.

The order of suspension states that the Director of the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation finds that in order to protect the public interest, safety and welfare, emergency action is required to prevent the continued practice of the psychiatrist, as his actions constitute an immediate danger to the public.

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

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Medical malpractice amputation case brings former Illinois police lieutenant 3.1 million USD Wed, 22 Apr 2015 17:04:38 +0000 An Illinois jury has returned a $3.1 million medical malpractice verdict for a former Loves Park police lieutenant whose leg was amputated as the result of a doctor’s negligence.

The Illinois Jury Verdict Reporter stated that it was a record verdict for Winnebago County for a leg amputation. The trial took place at the Winnebago County Courthouse and lasted two weeks. The jury returned a verdict after less than five hours of deliberation. 

Donald Johnson had a history of peripheral vascular disease. He was complaining of weakness and dizziness on August 10, 2010 when he was admitted to Rockford Memorial Hospital. Johnson was treated by a doctor who applied a special gauze bandage called an Unna Boot to Johnson’s leg, which remained on for a period of five days. The lawsuit claimed that the boot should not have been used — tests had revealed that Johnson had only 41 percent blood flow to the leg, making the restrictive wrap dangerous.

After the boot was removed, Johnson’s leg showed necrotic issue. A below-the-knee amputation was required immediately, and an above-the-knee amputation became needed later.

The lawsuit claimed that the doctor, a general surgeon, failed to consult with a vascular surgeon and failed to employ surgical options to restore blood flow to the patient’s leg.

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

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Bernie Mac’s widow drops Illinois wrongful death lawsuit Tue, 21 Apr 2015 11:00:06 +0000 An Illinois wrongful death lawsuit by Bernie Mac’s widow has been withdrawn, but her attorney has said that the case will be refiled later.

Rhonda McCullough, the late comedian’s wife, filed the lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court against dermatologist Rene Earles, claiming that the doctor failed to respond appropriately to her husband’s signs of respiratory distress a few weeks before his death. The comedian died of complications from pneumonia in 2008.

The wrongful death lawsuit claimed that Earles should have called an ambulance to take Mac to the hospital instead of keeping Mac at his clinic for several hours.

McCullough’s attorneys said that they asked the judge to dismiss the case in such a way that it could be refiled within one year. According to the attorneys, the case will not be dropped, but will be refiled in order to address certain “internal issues.”

Earles and his attorney said that the suit was dismissed because there is “no legitimate case” against the doctor. Earles treated Mac for sarcoidosis for more than a decade. According to Earles’ attorney, on the day in question, Earles noticed that Mac was ill and recommended that he rest before treatment, and he later had Mac’s driver transport him to the hospital.

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

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Illinois wrongful death lawsuit filed over police shooting Mon, 20 Apr 2015 11:51:31 +0000 On November 3, 2014, Christopher Anderson died after police shot him in a suburban Chicago area hospital. Now, his mother has filed a wrongful death lawsuit.

Venus Anderson has filed the suit in federal court against the city of Highland Park and two police officers, claiming that they used excessive force in firing nine shots in under two seconds, killing her son.

Anderson was involved in a car crash during the evening hours of November 3, and he was taken to NorthShore Highland Park Hospital. A few hours later, a 911 call was made from the hospital. The caller reported that Anderson had a gun. 

Police said that upon their arrival, Anderson drew the gun and refused to put it down, despite several warnings.

An investigation by the Lake County state’s attorney’s office determined that the police officers involved in the incident followed correct protocol. However, Venus Anderson claims in the lawsuit that unreasonable force was used, and that the aggressive barrage of gunfire, certain to kill, was uncalled for. Neither the city of Highland Park nor the police department would comment on the lawsuit, stating that they had yet to see the complaint. However, an attorney for the city stated that based on the “known facts,” there is no basis for the city to be liable.

The lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

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

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Why You Should Never Talk to Another Driver’s Insurance Company – Podcast Mon, 30 Mar 2015 11:30:54 +0000 This episode of the Chicago Injury Alert explores the risks of speaking to the other driver’s insurance company after an accident. Don’t fall in to traps that are being set by claims adjusters and others working for the insurance company.

]]> 0 This episode of the Chicago Injury Alert explores the risks of speaking to the other driver's insurance company after an accident. Don't fall in to traps that are being set by claims adjusters and others working for the insurance company. This episode of the Chicago Injury Alert explores the risks of speaking to the other driver's insurance company after an accident. Don't fall in to traps that are being set by claims adjusters and others working for the insurance company. Briskman Briskman & Greenberg no 3:17
What You May Not Know About Drowsy Driving Wed, 18 Mar 2015 11:06:45 +0000 When comedian Tracy Morgan was hit and severely injured by a fatigued truck driver, drowsy driving issues were pressed into a spotlight. Driver fatigue usually does not receive as much attention as drunk driving, but it can be just as dangerous. Here is what you need to know.

  • It is more prevalent than you may think. According to a 2005 poll by the National Sleep Foundation, 60 percent of adult drivers admit to driving while feeling drowsy, and more than one third say they have fallen asleep at the wheel. Four percent, or about 11 million drivers, said they had an accident or near miss because they were too drowsy to be driving. In countries with more reliable crash reporting systems than the United States, drowsy driving is known to be a factor of between 10 and 30 percent of all crashes.
  • It is probably severely underreported. According to a conservative estimate by the National Traffic Safety Administration, 100,000 accidents per year are the result of driver fatigue, resulting in 71,000 injuries, 1,550 deaths and $12.5 billion in financial loss. However, the problem is likely much worse. Many sleepy drivers may not admit their state, and there is no test to determine a driver’s fatigue level, as there is for alcohol intoxication.
  • Some people are more at risk. Men are more likely to drive while fatigued than women, and young people (age 18-29) drive drowsy more often than other age groups do. Late-shift workers, parents of young children and people with sleep apnea or other sleep disorders face particularly high risk rates.
  • It is more dangerous than it seems. People tend to recognize that they are sleepy quite well, but they also tend to misjudge how difficult it is for them to stay awake. The best thing to do about drowsy driving is pull over and take a nap, but many drivers respond to the situation by driving faster to reach their destination more quickly, increasing the danger. According to a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, sleeping six or seven hours a night instead of eight or more can double the risk of a crash, and driving on less than five hours’ sleep increases the risk by four or five times.
  • It can be as dangerous as driving drunk. An Australian study found that staying awake for just 18 hours creates a level of impairment equivalent to a blood alcohol content of .05. After staying awake for 24 hours, the impairment level was equivalent to .10, substantially above the .08 level at which it is illegal to drive in the United States.

If you have been injured in an automobile accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Call Briskman Briskman & Greenberg for a free consultation to learn more about your legal rights.

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Birth injury lawsuit filed for forty million USD Mon, 16 Mar 2015 11:32:38 +0000 The family of a boy with cerebral palsy have filed a $40 million birth injury lawsuit, claiming that their son’s disorder was caused by medical malpractice.

The parents of Maverick Ramseyer, now age six, filed the suit against Silverton Hospital in Oregon. The boy’s movements and coordination are hindered by the neurological disorder. He needs physical therapy and will probably need to wear a leg brace for the rest of his life.

Elizabeth Ramseyer’s pregnancy was healthy. However, when labor began, the baby’s head was not positioned at the cervix. According to the lawsuit, his heart rate dropped to 60 beats per minute for a period of about six minutes. The doctor then decided to deliver the baby via emergency cesarean section. The baby was apparently unable to breathe when he was born, and doctors attempted to resuscitate him using an oxygen bag and face mask before clearing his airway, which had become blocked, the lawsuit alleges.

Maverick’s parents and attorney say that he will need medical care for the rest of his life, and that he currently has one to three appointments each week with physical, speech and occupational therapists. The Ramseyers said that they max out their insurance plan each year and incur $500 per month in medical debt.

The lawsuit seeks damages for medical expenses, loss of earning capacity and other damages.

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Appeals court affirms 20.6 million USD award in birth injury lawsuit Thu, 12 Mar 2015 11:30:30 +0000 An appeals court upheld an award of $20.6 million to the family of a boy who now suffers from cerebral palsy due to a birth injury.

The family had been awarded $21 million by a jury in Baltimore City Circuit Court, but that was reduced to $20.6 million because of Maryland’s cap on non-economic damages.

Baltimore’s MedStar Harbor Hospital argued that there was insufficient evidence that the cerebral palsy resulted from delivery complications, but the Maryland Court of Special Appeals affirmed the capped award.

The appeals court, in a 3-0 decision, said that the central issue in the trial was a “classic battle” between expert witnesses, and that it was the jury’s decision who to believe.

The family’s experts said that the obstetrician’s failure to perform a cesarean section promptly caused the delivery complications and the child’s cerebral palsy. They testified that the baby’s low oxygen levels, shown on a fetal heart rate monitor, called for a C-section, but that the doctor allowed labor to continue for three more hours.

In its opinion, the court wrote that while the experts disagreed, there was sufficient evidence from the plaintiff’s side to make the question of causation an issue for the jury’s consideration.

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Illinois construction engineer, pinned under crane, suffers severe injuries Tue, 10 Mar 2015 11:29:23 +0000 A construction engineer was severely injured working in Elgin, Illinois on a bridge over the Fox River.

A component fell from a crane and injured Rudolf Das on Monday, December 1, 2014 underneath the Interstate 90 bridge at Duncan Avenue.

Das is a 51-year-old employee of K&S Engineers from Naperville, Illinois. According to his wife, Das suffered a broken back, knee, ribs and nose, along with an ankle injury and punctured lung, in the accident. He was pinned under a crane component weighing several thousand pounds.

Das spent nearly three weeks in the intensive care unit at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge and underwent multiple surgeries. His wife, Jona Das, told the Daily Herald that doctors are not optimistic that Das will walk freely again.

Tony Dahms, a heavy equipment operator and one of Das’ co-workers, started a fundraiser for the family. Dahms said he had never worked with a nicer man than Das, who he said possessed an exceptionally calm demeanor. “There’s no screaming or arm-waving like we’re used to,” Dahms told the Daily Herald. “He’s just not the kind of person you run across in construction.”

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the cause of the accident, according to Tollway officials. Jona Das has filed a personal injury lawsuit against K&S Engineers and several others, seeking multiple millions of dollars in damages on her husband’s behalf.

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Appellate court ruling allows cruise ship doctors to be sued for medical malpractice Fri, 06 Mar 2015 11:28:33 +0000 When patients are injured by medical malpractice, they should always have the right to file a lawsuit to obtain compensation. But for decades, it has been nearly impossible for cruise ship passengers to sue when they receive negligent medical care from on-board doctors and nurses working for the cruise line. A longstanding rule of maritime law has provided cruise lines with immunity.

Now, a federal appellate court has allowed a medical malpractice and wrongful death case to proceed against a cruise line.

The case involves an elderly passenger who suffered a fall while a Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines ship was docked in Bermuda. The man, Pasquale Vaglio, returned to the ship and sought treatment in the ship’s hospital. The man fell into a coma and died a week later, allegedly as a result of negligent care. The patient’s daughter filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the cruise line in federal court in Miami, alleging that health care providers on the ship failed to properly diagnose the patient’s cranial trauma.

The trial judge dismissed the suit, applying immunity under maritime law. However, the appellate court, in a 63-page decision, found that the cruise line could be held vicariously liable for the medical malpractice of on-board doctors and nurses, even under maritime law.

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Across the country, medical malpractice payments are dropping Thu, 05 Mar 2015 11:27:12 +0000 A new study has found that the number of payments for medical malpractice claims has dropped sharply since 2002.

The study also found that many doctors are seeing declining liability insurance costs and payment amounts. The study was published online in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Researchers analyzed data from Illinois, California, New York, Colorado and Tennessee for the period from 2002 to 2013. They found that the overall rate of paid malpractice claims per 1,000 physicians dropped from 18.6 to 9.9 during that time. The average annual decrease was estimated to be 6.3 percent for doctors of medicine (MDs) and 5.3 percent for doctors of osteopathic medicine (Dos).

Trends in liability premiums paid by doctors were mixed. In Illinois, premiums charged to internists and obstetrician-gynecologists (OB/GYNs) by the state’s largest issuer of medical malpractice insurance policies dropped by 36 percent from 2004 to 2013. The premiums paid by general surgeons decreased by 30 percent. California and Tennessee experienced similar declines. Colorado saw a drop in premiums for internists but a rise for OB/GYNs and general surgeons, while New York saw an increase in premiums charged by the state’s largest insurer for all three types of doctors.

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Family files wrongful death lawsuit against Kmart after woman dies from infected cut Tue, 03 Mar 2015 11:25:08 +0000 The family of a woman who died from an infection after suffering a cut to her leg from a shelf in an Illinois Kmart has filed a wrongful death claim against the retail corporation.

The lawsuit alleges that Dolores Thompson was using a motorized scooter provided by the store in November 2012 when she tried to avoid boxes stacked in a Kmart aisle and cut her leg on a metal shelf unit. David Thompson, the woman’s son and administrator of her estate, has filed the lawsuit.

The incident is alleged to have occurred at a now-closed Kmart in Streator, southwest of Joliet. Approximately two weeks after the woman was injured, doctors found methicillin resistant staph aureus, also known as MRSA, in her leg wound. According to the lawsuit, Thompson died of MRSA sepsis on April 15, 2014 in Cook County.

The lawsuit also lists Sears Holdings Corp., Kmart’s parent company, as a defendant. Sears Holdings is headquartered in Hoffman Estates, Illinois and is the tenth largest retailer in the United States by annual revenue. The company operates 4,000 retail stores under the names of Sears, Kmart and subsidiaries.

The four-count wrongful death lawsuit seeks damages in excess of $200,000, plus court costs.

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Personal Injury Claim Cites FitBit Data Mon, 02 Mar 2015 11:37:18 +0000 Wearable devices that track the movements of users to help them with personal fitness goals can also produce evidence that can be used in personal injury lawsuits. The first known case to use data from the popular FitBit device is now underway.

The plaintiff in the personal injury claim was injured four years ago, before FitBits were on the market. However, because she worked as a personal trainer, her attorneys argue that she had an active lifestyle, and they plan to use her current FitBit data to show that her activity levels are below what they should be for someone of her age and profession.

The plaintiff’s attorneys will use an analytics company, Vivametrica, to compare the woman’s raw FitBit data to the general population.

While the data in this case is being used to support an injured person’s claim, similar data could easily be used against the wearer in court as well.

Anyone who chooses to wear such a device may find that the data can be subpoenaed. Insurers could use the information to deny a disability claim, and prosecutors could seek incriminating evidence. In that context, defense attorneys may argue that the evidence constitutes self-incrimination, against which the Constitution protects.

The variability of the data from different tracking devices is another thorny issue. Each brand of wearable fitness device has its own method of measuring a user’s movements, and Vivametrica and its competitors each have their own way of analyzing the raw data – all of which could lead to different legal outcomes when such information is used as evidence in court.

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Families of Newtown school shooting victims file wrongful death claim notices Mon, 02 Mar 2015 11:04:02 +0000 Ten families affected by the 2012 school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Bushmaster, the company that made the Bushmaster AR-15 that Adam Lanza used to kill six adults and 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012.

The lawsuit accuses Bushmaster of negligence and wrongful death for manufacturing and distributing the weapon. Nine of the families are parents and spouses of people who died in the shooting, and the tenth is a teacher who survived after being shot multiple times.

The lawsuit claims that because the rifle is a military-style assault weapon, Bushmaster should not have entrusted it to the general public. According to the lawsuit, the rifle is unsuited for civilian use because individuals who are mentally unfit to operate the weapon can gain access to it.

According to the lawsuit, Bushmaster knew or should have known that the rifle posed a high risk for involvement in multiple deaths and serious injuries.

The lawsuit notes that Bushmaster is the largest supplier of combat rifles to the public. Bushmaster’s parent company is Remington Outdoor Company.

Previously, at least 12 families of victims opened estates in their children’s names while providing notice that they intended to file wrongful death claims.

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Is drowsy driving more dangerous than drunk driving? – Podcast Sat, 28 Feb 2015 01:22:37 +0000 Driver fatigue usually does not receive as much attention as drunk driving. In this Chicago Injury Alert episode we talk about how it can be just as dangerous.

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Jury awards $8.45 million to boy with cerebral palsy in birth injury lawsuit Fri, 27 Feb 2015 11:24:24 +0000 A jury in a birth injury case awarded $8.45 million to a boy who suffered severe injuries after an eight-minute delay in inserting a breathing tube.

The jury found that medical personnel at Northeast Georgia Medical Center did not follow the proper standards of care when the boy was born in 2008.

Jakob Medley, now age five, went without a needed breathing tube for eight minutes because the neonatal resuscitation team at the hospital was occupied and medical personnel failed to call for a backup team. According to court documents, a physician was never called, despite the fact that fetal monitoring showed a lack of oxygen and a possible need for an early delivery by cesarean section.

Jakob suffers from developmental delays, cerebral palsy, seizures and disfigurement. He cannot talk or walk, and he must be fed through a tube in his stomach. The family’s attorneys said that the verdict will ensure that the care the boy will need throughout his life will be paid by the hospital and its insurance company, not by taxpayers.

The family’s attorneys said that in a large hospital, there was no excuse for failing to have a backup team available and to follow standards of medical care.

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Outdated safety standards may actually prevent safety advancements Thu, 26 Feb 2015 11:29:00 +0000 New advancements have been made in auto headlight technology, but some systems are unavailable in the United States because 45-year-old lighting safety standards do not allow for them.

Nighttime driving can be dangerous simply because it is more difficult for drivers to see other cars, pedestrians and road obstacles. Headlights make night driving possible, but the glare from other drivers’ headlights is a problem of its own. Adaptive LED lighting is being developed to address these problems.

BMW’s Dynamic Light Spot system uses LEDs in place of fog lights. The system illuminates what it senses are a person’s feet, following a pedestrian crossing in front of the vehicle, and it can illuminate objects in the vehicle’s path before normal headlights would reach them. However, the system is outlawed in the United States. The LEDs bring the total lumens above the limit set by the 1968 Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.

Audi’s Matrix LED system uses camera sensors to determine where light is needed on the road. It can prevent glare by sensing other vehicles and then directing headlight beams away from the other driver’s windshield. But not in the U.S., where old safety standards dictate that cars must have high and low beams, and nothing in between.

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NHTSA nominee wants to make better use of data Wed, 25 Feb 2015 11:27:22 +0000 In a Senate committee hearing, Mark Rosekind, President Obama’s choice to lead the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), said that the agency needs greater resources to keep up with consumer complaints and better tools to analyze data.

Rosekind said that the number of complaints made to the agency has recently increased from 45,000 to 75,000 per year. Meanwhile, he said, there are only 16 field investigators and nine people to analyze complaints.

Rosekind also said that advanced technology is needed to find innovative ways to interpret sometimes vast data sets in order to spot problems.

Rosekind’s nomination comes in a time of turmoil for the agency, which has been without a permanent head for more than a year. Safety advocates and members of Congress have criticized the agency for not taking a hard enough line with auto manufacturers over safety defects.

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Study finds limitations to auto safety technology Tue, 24 Feb 2015 11:24:46 +0000 With the recent wave of technological innovations in auto safety, and the promise of even greater developments to come, a vision is taking shape of a future where human error has been removed from the safety equation. However, that time has not yet arrived, and an over-reliance on these new tools in their present form can actually be dangerous.

Land departure warnings, blind spot detection and lane-keep assistance have tremendous potential for driver safety. However, there have been few tests to study how these tools work in the real world, and the studies that have been done frequently reveal flaws in the new systems.

In one study, researchers from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found troubling situational inconsistencies in lane departure warning and blind spot detection systems. The systems often had trouble detecting motorcycles and fast-moving vehicles, and warnings were often provided too late for evasive action.

The lesson: drivers can use these new safety features as a backup warning system, but they should continue to rely primarily on their own safe driving skills.

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Pfizer asks judge to dismiss more than 500 birth injury lawsuits Mon, 23 Feb 2015 11:26:01 +0000 Pfizer, a pharmaceutical giant, asked a Pennsylvania judge to dismiss more than 500 cases from all over the country alleging that the firm’s antidepressant drug Zoloft causes birth injuries.

The 526 lawsuits, which have been combined into multidistrict litigation in Philadelphia, allege that Pfizer was negligent in failing to warn pregnant women that birth injuries such as cleft palate, cardiac problems and club feet could result from taking the drug. Pfizer maintains that Zoloft is safe for pregnant women to take according to federal guidelines.

After Judge Cynthia Rufe excluded four expert witnesses against Pfizer, on the basis that their arguments were not rigorous enough, Pfizer moved to dismiss all of the lawsuits, claiming that there is not enough evidence for the plaintiffs to prevail.

However, the plaintiffs’ attorneys have applied to present a new expert witness. The plaintiffs want Nicholas Jewell, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley’s School of Public Health, to testify that birth injuries can be caused by Zoloft.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs said that the drug “obviously” causes problems, and that they would prove it in court.

An attorney for Pfizer said that the company has sympathy for the families but believes there is no evidence that the birth injuries were caused by the women’s use of Zoloft.

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NHTSA demands nationwide recall of Takata airbags Sat, 21 Feb 2015 11:30:24 +0000 The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has directed Japanese airbag supplier Takata Corp and five car manufacturers to expand a regional recall of airbags. The agency has also said that the company needs to be more open with the public about the airbag problems.

At least five fatalities have been linked to the airbags, which can rupture during deployment, causing metal shrapnel to strike passengers. The defect is most prevalent in humid areas; the airbags’ propellant is affected by moisture. The regional recall has involved 4.1 million cars in hot and humid areas of the country.

Takata resisted the demand for a nationwide recall, saying that it could divert replacement airbags from where they are most needed. Meanwhile, auto safety advocates said that even the NHTSA’s demand for a nationwide recall is not enough, because it covers only driver-side airbags, and passenger airbags may also be defective.

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In Illinois, 2014 May Have Seen Fewest Traffic Deaths Since 2009 Fri, 20 Feb 2015 11:21:34 +0000 Based on provisional data through December 15, the year 2014 was on pace to have the lowest number of traffic deaths since 2009 in Illinois.

According to data from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), there were 876 fatalities on all roadways within the state as of December 15 – 75 fewer fatalities than were recorded by the same date in 2013. In 2009, Illinois reached a modern-day low of 911 roadway deaths. Since then, the number of traffic fatalities has stayed above that number, while still remaining below 1,000 per year.

If the current trend continues, roadway deaths in Illinois will be much lower than in 2013, and possibly lower than in 2009.

IDOT and law enforcement officials are doing their part to help support that trend with a joint campaign to remind drivers to “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” and “Click It or Ticket.” As snow, ice and increased traffic during the winter holiday season bring an increased risk of accidents, strong enforcement efforts will be underway. Officers will focus on impaired, unrestrained, speeding and fatigued drivers, officials said. The enforcement efforts will also focus on nighttime hours, when more car accidents occur.

Teen driving deaths have also dropped in Illinois. In 2013, there were 71 teen fatalities, down from 155 in 2007. Officials say the state’s graduated driver licensing system, which launched in 2008, is a key factor in the decline. Under the graduated system, teenage permit holders must spend a certain amount of time driving with adult supervision before obtaining an unrestricted driver’s license.

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Appellate court rules injured worker entitled to temporary total disability benefits Thu, 19 Feb 2015 11:23:33 +0000 An Illinois appeals court ruled that an injured Wal-Mart worker was entitled to temporary total disability benefits, despite being terminated for cause.

The Appellate Court of Illinois, Second District, Workers’ Compensation Commission Division, issued the opinion on September 30, 2014.

Walter Matuszczak, a Wal-Mart employee, originally filed an application for adjustment of claim on March 26, 2010. Matuszczak, who worked as a full-time night stocker, injured his right arm, neck and back at work when several shelves stocked with glass cleaner fell on him.

After a hearing, the arbitrator awarded Matuszczak temporary total disability (TTD) benefits for a period of 23 weeks and two days, in addition to $14,227.41 in medical expenses, and prospective medical expenses for a recommended surgery.

Upon review, the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (IWCC) vacated the TTD award. The Du Page County Circuit Court reinstated the TTD award, and the appeals court affirmed it, holding that the claimant was entitled to TTD benefits.

The employer argued that the claimant’s termination for allegedly stealing cigarettes from his employer constituted a refusal to work within his prescribed physical restrictions. The appeals court found that the facts of the case were similar to those in Interstate Scaffolding Inc. v. Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, a 2010 Illinois Supreme Court case that found that an injured employee discharged for cause was still entitled to TTD benefits.

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Illinois workers’ compensation reform has not reduced insurance premiums in construction industry as promised Tue, 17 Feb 2015 11:22:14 +0000 Three years ago, the workers’ compensation system in Illinois underwent significant reforms, which lowered the costs for treatment of injured workers, among other changes. The reforms were supposed to lead to lower workers’ compensation insurance premiums for employers, but that has not happened, according to those in the construction industry.

In fact, even as Governor Pat Quinn says that such costs have dropped by 19.3 percent, some construction firms have actually seen their premiums go up.

Michael Latz, the chairman of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, said that the result is that insurance companies are seeing increased profits.

In July, the governor’s office claimed that employers in Illinois could see an overall drop of up to $143 million in the cost of premiums in 2015, resulting in a total reduction of more than $450 million since the reforms took effect in 2011.

The 2011 reforms implemented a 30 percent reduction in the medical fee schedule for workers’ compensation claims in an attempt to reduce costs.

However, many firms in the construction industry, where worker injury is a constant danger, say their rates have stayed the same.

According to the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services, which tracks data on workers’ compensation insurance premiums nationwide, Illinois is still the fourth most expensive state for premiums, even after reforms.

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Study reveals facts about anesthesia-related medical malpractice claims Fri, 13 Feb 2015 11:20:55 +0000 A new study has analyzed anesthesia-related medical malpractice claims.

The study, published in the Journal of Healthcare Risk Management, analyzed 607 medical malpractice claims involving anesthesia that were reported to The Doctors Company, a medical malpractice insurance company with reported assets of $4.3 billion and 75,000 members.

According to the study, damage to teeth was the most frequent anesthesia-related injury reported, accounting for 20.8 percent of the claims. According to the study, 18.3 percent of the claims involved the death of the patient, 13.5 percent involved nerve damage, 12.7 percent involved damage to organs, 10.9 percent of claims were over pain and 10.7 percent involved cardiopulmonary arrest. Obesity of the patient was the most frequent contributing factor leading to a claim.

Smaller hospitals had fewer claims, but greater rates of mortality and nerve damage, the study found. The lowest death-to-claim rate was found in ambulatory surgery centers. The average indemnity payment for anesthesia medical malpractice claims was $309,066, higher than the average of $291,000 for all physician specialties.

According to the study, in 80 percent of claims, the complication that led to the claim had been explained to patients before the procedure. However, researchers said that patients may not have had enough understanding to associate those risks with the injuries they suffered.

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Study finds that stricter limits on medical malpractice lawsuits do not reduce healthcare costs Tue, 10 Feb 2015 11:20:03 +0000 Proponents of limits on medical malpractice lawsuits have long argued that lawsuits drive up the cost of care, in part because doctors order expensive and unnecessary tests in order to protect themselves from legal liability. According to the theory, wasteful “defensive medicine” could be reduced if doctors were in less danger of being sued.

Now, a Rand Corporation study has examined the data and found that the theory is unsupported by the evidence. Placing limits on medical malpractice lawsuits does not reduce the volume or cost of emergency room care.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, analyzed data from emergency rooms in South Carolina, Georgia and Texas, three states that put strict limits on medical malpractice claims in the past decade.

All three states raised the bar for a medical malpractice claim for emergency care to “gross negligence,” meaning, basically, that doctors had to actually know that they were providing improper care, but provided it anyway. Researchers compared metrics on defensive medicine procedures and costs for Medicare claims in these states, compared to states that did not have higher bars for malpractice claims. Overall, the study found no reduction in the metrics studied. There was only a small reduction in one metric, charges per patient, in one state.

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SIU student’s family files wrongful death lawsuit after autopsies conflict Mon, 02 Feb 2015 11:18:17 +0000 The family of a 19-year-old Southern Illinois University (SIU) student found dead in a wooded area has filed a $5 million wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Carbondale and the police chief. The family has also called for a federal investigation.

Pravin Varughese went missing the night of February 12, and his body was found in the woods off of Main Street in Carbondale on February 18. Police say they later learned that Varughese got a ride from the driver of a pickup, but ran into the woods after an altercation. The temperature reached 14 degrees overnight, and the Jackson County coroner said that hypothermia appeared to be the cause of death. However, the Varughese family commissioned another autopsy, which showed blunt force trauma to the head.

The family claims that Carbondale police mishandled the investigation of the student’s death. The family was initially told that Varughese ran into the woods after a night of drinking. However, the autopsy commissioned by the family showed no alcohol in the student’s system. Police Chief Jody O’Guinn was fired over the mishandling of the case, and she is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

Carbondale police were unaware of the altercation with the pickup truck driver until the driver himself came forward. The driver said that a man asked him for a ride and for money, but then punched him in the face and ran into the woods.

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Teen Driving Deaths Decline and Smart Cars May Improve Safety with Other Risks – Podcast Fri, 30 Jan 2015 11:48:52 +0000 This month’s Chicago Injury Alert talks about the decline in teen driving deaths. Also, we talk about how smart cars can making driving safer but may come with unforeseen risks.

]]> 0 This month's Chicago Injury Alert talks about the decline in teen driving deaths. Also, we talk about how smart cars can making driving safer but may come with unforeseen risks. This month's Chicago Injury Alert talks about the decline in teen driving deaths. Also, we talk about how smart cars can making driving safer but may come with unforeseen risks. Briskman Briskman & Greenberg no 4:55
Parents file wrongful death lawsuit against school after daughter’s suicide Thu, 29 Jan 2015 11:15:37 +0000 The parents of a 12-year-old girl who committed suicide have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Chicago Public School District, claiming that the district failed to take action to address bullying.

McKenzie Philpot, a sixth grader at Pierce School of International Studies, left behind messages on social media that revealed the extent of the bullying she endured. According to her parents, bullies chased McKenzie, pushed her face up against a fence and hit her with a frozen water bottle. 

According to the family’s attorney, McKenzie’s mother discovered that the girl had hanged herself.

McKenzie’s parents informed school administrators repeatedly about the incidents, the family’s lawyer said. However, the parents claim that the school district failed to follow protocols set by the Chicago Board of Education.

Shortly after the girl’s death, the school district conducted its own investigation and said that no credible evidence of bullying was found.

According to parents of students at Pierce School of International Studies, the school has instituted a new anti-bullying program.

Teen suicide is a significant problem. In 2009, among people aged 10 years and older, suicide was the tenth leading cause of death. Suicide accounted for 36,891 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Smart Cars May Improve Safety, but Will Present Their Own Issues Tue, 27 Jan 2015 11:14:00 +0000 Automobile manufacturers are now developing autonomous vehicles that promise to save thousands of lives. Despite auto safety advances, each year, more than 30,000 people lose their lives in car accidents. Most of those crashes are attributable to human error.

New safety features address the problems caused when fallible humans are left in charge. Technology such as car-to-car wireless communication, advance crash detection and automatic braking could prevent car accidents when drivers fail to take action quickly enough to stop a crash from happening. 

In the near term, these features will assist human drivers, who will still bear the primary responsibility for operating their vehicles. In a later stage of development, cars may drive themselves, allowing passengers to focus on other things while in the vehicle. Cars may even be able to park themselves, dropping passengers off at their destination before going to search for a parking spot.

Autonomous and semi-autonomous cars may indeed prevent accidents and save lives, but they also raise unique safety issues of their own.

One problem is obvious: computers can fail, and they can be hacked. Giving up control of a vehicle to a computer means that a computer malfunction or a malicious hacking attack could cause a crash. While thousands of lives may be saved by autonomous vehicle technology, it seems likely that at least some injury and loss of life will be directly attributable to the new features as well. 

The situation may be analogous to the early development of air bags. Designed for adults, the explosive impact of air bags ended up causing the deaths of about 175 children and smaller adults in the 1990s, before improvements were introduced. During the same period, air bags saved about 6,400 lives, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Another problem may arise with the mix of autonomous vehicles and human-operated cars that can be expected on the road as the technology is introduced. Research has indicated that human drivers may unconsciously mimic the actions of the vehicles around them. Driverless cars may be able to drive very close together at high speeds with the ability to stop quickly, and human drivers may be tempted to follow suit, driving closer to other vehicles than is safe, given their slower reaction times.

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Illinois Teen Driving Deaths Decline Fri, 23 Jan 2015 11:11:51 +0000 Illinois teen driving deaths have declined, and officials say it is because of more stringent regulations for teen driver’s licenses.

Seven years ago, Illinois put a more restrictive program of graduated driver’s licenses in place for teenagers. Teen driving deaths have dropped five percent since then. According to the office of the Illinois Secretary of State, the restrictions have improved driving safety.

The graduated driver’s license program has three phases.

In the initial permit phase, upon reaching the age of 15, a person may obtain a restricted driving permit, with a parent’s permission. The permit is valid for two years, and it must be held for a period of at least nine months before moving to the next phase. During the permit phase, a teenager must practice driving while supervised by an adult age 21 or older with a valid driver’s license. Each teen is required to complete a minimum of 50 hours, including 10 nighttime hours. A teenager with a driver’s permit must also complete a driver education course before moving on to the next phase.

In the initial licensing phase, available for drivers age 16-17, a teenager may drive unsupervised, but he or she is subject to nighttime curfews. In addition, for the first year or until the driver turns 18, the driver is limited to only one passenger under the age of 20, not including family members. Moving violations during this period may extend the period of time before a driver may move on to the full licensing phase.

In the full licensing phase, there are no age-related restrictions on driving. But drivers age 18-20 who did not take a high school driver education course must complete a six-hour course before they may obtain a driver’s license.

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Wrongful death lawsuit dismissed in death of David Koschman Tue, 13 Jan 2015 23:17:06 +0000 A wrongful death lawsuit over the death of David Koschman has been dismissed. The lawsuit accused Chicago authorities of a cover-up after Koschman died following an altercation with a member of the Daley family. A federal judge ruled that the statute of limitations had expired.

U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer said the lawsuit by Koschman’s mother against City Hall, Chicago police and prosecutors was “extraordinary,” but that civil rights violations have a two-year statute of limitations, which had run out.

The lawsuit stems from an altercation that took place in April 2004 between Koschman and Richard Vanecko, a nephew of Richard Daley, the former mayor of Chicago. Koschman fell and hit his head on the street after Vanecko punched him. He died in the hospital 11 days later.

The lawsuit alleged that someone closely connected to the Daley family alerted police that the mayor’s nephew was involved in order to prevent Vanecko from being charged with a crime or sued. The lawsuit, which relied in large part on the findings of a special prosecutor, alleged that police altered official files and fabricated evidence in an attempt to make it appear that Koschman was the aggressor in the confrontation.

However, Nanci Koschman waited until March to file the lawsuit after Vanecko pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter for Koschman’s death. The judge ruled that the statute of limitations began to run in December 2011, when Ms. Koschman asked for a special prosecutor to investigate.

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