The family of a young boy who was left disabled for life following a series of more than two dozen surgeries, purportedly in an attempt to properly connect his esophagus to his stomach, has secured more than $30 million from the doctor and hospital the family alleged were responsible for what happened to the child.
On Feb. 18, Cook County Judge Edward S. Harmening, saying the two sides had reached a settlement resolving the case, dismissed the medical malpractice action brought in 2013 by plaintiffs Ethel and Oscar Chavez, parents of a child identified in the complaint as E.C., against defendants including pediatric surgeon Mark J. Holterman and Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.
Terms of the settlement were not disclosed in court documents. However, in a news release, attorneys from the Chicago medical malpractice law firm of Romanucci & Blandin, who represented the Chavez family, said the family was awarded $30 million dollars. Neither the release nor the court documents indicated how much the Chavez family’s lawyers, including Stephan Blandin, would receive from the settlement.
According to the release, E.C. was born in November 2009 with a “non-life threatening, easily correctable” congenital condition known as esophageal artresia, a condition in which the esophagus does not connect properly to the stomach.
However, the release said, on the day after E.C.’s birth, Holterman “failed to exercise due care” when performing the surgery that would typically correct the problem, causing more problems that eventually led to two dozen “experimental procedures” on the child which Romanucci & Blandin said “were not authorized by the hospital and not pursuant to clinical trial protocol.”
During the final surgery, however, the release from Romanucci & Blandin said E.C.’s pulmonary artery was severed as the result of “an inappropriate, off-label use of an endoclose needle,” which left E.C. with “profound, irreversible brain injury and cerebral palsy.”
In the release, Blandin said Holterman’s actions in the child’s case were “medically careless and personally irresponsible,” as they “repeatedly exposed this young boy to the hazards of surgery and risky, novel operations.”
Blandin further said the case indicated “a dramatic lack of oversight” on the part of Rush University Medical Center.
The order from the judge instructed the parties specifically to not discuss Rush’s participation in the settlement “in any statements or writings.”
According to the Romanucci & Blandin release, the award for the Chavez family marked the fourth largest medical malpractice award for a minor in Illinois, and the largest settlement for a child born with esophageal artresia in the state.
Court records indicated Holterman and Rush were represented in the action by the firms of Hall Prangle and Schoonveld; Donohue Brown Mathewson & Smyth; and Anderson, Rasor & Partners, all of Chicago.