A Cook County jury has ordered a group of medical professionals and organizations, including Chicago’s Mercy Hospital and Medical Center, to pay more than $22 million to the family of a mother of six children who suffered brain damage, leaving her disabled and dependent on the care of others, as a result of an alleged lack of medical attention to a tracheostomy blocked by blood clots more than 10 years ago.
On Dec. 4, the jury found in favor of plaintiff Jeanette Turner, who had sued the doctors, hospital and others who provided medical care to her while she was hospitalized at Mercy in late February 2005.
The jury award, totaling about $22.1 million, included $663,860 for medical services received to date, $2.5 million for disfigurement, $1 million for emotional distress suffered to date and $2 million for loss of normal life experienced to date.
The award also included more than $14 million for future medical expenses, future loss of normal life and future expected emotional distress stemming from her injuries and disabilities.
Turner died shortly before the verdict was delivered, and her daughter, Joi Jefferson, was named her special representative for the duration of the court action in the case.
The lawsuit was brought by Turner in 2006 through attorneys from the firm of Lane & Lane, of Chicago.
According to court documents, Turner was hospitalized at Mercy in February 2005, following an emergency tracheostomy to allow her to breathe while doctors treated an infection in her mouth resulting from a dental abscess.
Five days after undergoing the emergency procedure, Turner began to bleed from the tracheostomy site. The bleeding worsened, and eventually Turner was reported to have told her nurses she was “choking on these blood clots” she would cough up through the tracheostomy.
According to Turner’s complaint, despite this continuing over the course of two days and numerous pleas from Turner and her sister for more thorough examinations and treatment, the medical staff allegedly allowed Turner’s airways to be blocked, resulting in oxygen deprivation and brain damage.
The brain damage purportedly left Turner “disabled from terrible tremors of all of her muscles, her face and all extremities, and affected all voluntary actions of any kind,” according to a statement from her attorneys, leaving her confined to a bed and wheelchair and dependent on others.
According to a statement from Lane & Lane, the hospital offered to settle for a maximum of $7 million shortly before the verdict was rendered. However, Turner’s lawyers said they “knew that the client deserved more for what she had been through,” and the hospital withdrew the offer.
Cook County Circuit Court Case No. 2006-L-5913