March 27, 2017
Firm Prevails for County Jail in Wrongful Death Case
Mike Kokal and John Hoelzer recently represented a physician, a physician’s assistant, and a nurse, all of whom provided medical services at a county jail, in a one-week wrongful death “deliberate indifference” and medical malpractice jury trial. The case was brought on behalf of an inmate who ultimately died from metastatic prostate cancer. The inmate’s cancer was unknown at the time of the care and treatment at issue. The allegations were that the medical providers failed to respond appropriately to the inmate’s symptoms in that they failed to order imaging tests, and that earlier cancer detection and surgery would have allowed the inmate to have had better quality of life in that he would not have become paralyzed and incontinent during the remaining years of his life. Plaintiff asked the jury for $1 million in compensatory damages, as well as for additional punitive damages. Kokal and Hoelzer (second-chair) presented evidence that the medical providers made reasonable judgment calls based on the information and resources that were available to them. In arriving at a defense verdict, the jury ultimately agreed that the medical providers were not deliberately indifferent or professionally negligent.
Firm Achieves Dismissal on the Pleadings
Keith Fruehling recently represented an Illinois County Sheriff and his office against a plaintiff’s claims that his Constitutional rights under the Fourteenth Amendment had been violated when he was extradited from the State of Arkansas back to the State of Illinois. Plaintiff also asserted that defendants violated his rights under the Interstate Extradition Act (IEA). Plaintiff specifically argued that the Sheriff and his office conspired to kidnap him in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment and the requirements of the Interstate Extradition Act (IEA) when he was returned to the State of Illinois to serve the prison sentence he received in abstentia when he failed to appear for that hearing a year earlier. Plaintiff sought a quarter of a million dollars from each defendant as damages. On behalf of the defendants, the firm moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s Amended Complaint arguing that there were no Constitutional or statutory violations and that the appropriate actions had been taken under the IEA. The firm also argued that the Heck doctrine barred the plaintiff’s claim in its entirety. The United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois agreed and entered an order dismissing plaintiff’s Amended Complaint with prejudice. At the time of press, plaintiff has initiated an appeal of the District Court’s decision.
Springfield Office Brings Multiple Cases to Resolution in First Quarter
A number of the attorneys in the firm’s Springfield office, including Springfield office Managing Partner Theresa Powell, associates John Hoelzer and Jessica Klaus, as well as Peoria associate Emily Perkins, have had a particularly successfully quarter and have prevailed for our state-actor clients in multiple dispositive motions, including a number of them that disposed of the litigation early-on. Since the beginning of the year, the firm has resolved more than a dozen civil rights claims through either a motion for summary judgment or a motion to dismiss. A number of the summary judgment motions were granted on the basis that the plaintiff failed to exhaust his/her administrative remedies prior to instituting the suit. The allegations in these cases involved the following types of claims: 14th Amendment claims regarding medical treatment, taking of property claims, deliberate indifference claims against correctional officers, and inmate claims against an Assistant PD. The result was that all of these matters were either dismissed or settled for a nominal amount.