This is one of the most common war stories you hear in the medical malpractice world – someone in the courtroom collapses during a medical malpractice trial, and the defendant doctor runs in to render aid and save the day.
Everyone claims to know someone this has happened to. It’s the Eddie Murphy in the elevator of lawyer stories.
Here’s one time it actually happened.
Bottom line is that the District Court allowed everyone involved to compose themselves over the lunch hour, polled the jury, and when the jury said they could still be fair and impartial, refused the Plaintiff’s request for a mistrial. The Court of Appeals reversed.
I tend to agree with the Court of Appeals. The bigger key is that if this happens to you, there are some citations in the opinion with other cases – so remember that if you need a quick brief on the issue.
EDIT: The Iowa Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals and allowed the verdict to stand. I disagree, but I see their logic. The opinion is here.
(Howard Zimmerle is a personal injury and medical malpractice lawyer in Rock Island, Illinois, practicing in Iowa and Illinois. He can be reached at 309-794-1660 or at hzimmerle [at] mjwlaw.com).
I guess the headline of this post says it all. Just remember that People v. Clark is a criminal case, and is a Second District case, not Illinois Supreme Court. Still, this is a good weapon to have in your trial lawyer’s arsenal.
(Howard Zimmerle practices plaintiff’s personal injury law in Rock Island Illinois and Davenport Iowa, as well as the surrounding areas. You can contact him at hzimmerle [at] mjwlaw.com, or 309-794-1660).
The Second District Appellate Court recently confirmed that punitive damages are not available in wrongful death cases based on the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act.
The case is Vincent v. Alden-Park Strathmoor, Inc., and it reaffirms one of the bizarre wrinkles in Illinois law – common law punitive damages may be available to a living person, but not to the Estate of a dead person. In other words, nursing homes that commit willful and wanton conduct (that’s essentially “really bad”, for you non-lawyers) might get off easier if that willful and wanton conduct kills their patient.
This isn’t the last word on the subject, but it is important to get the case out there.
(Howard Zimmerle is an attorney in Rock Island Illinois who handles nursing home neglect and abuse cases).