Jury awards multi-million dollar verdict in medical malpractice case

News-DemocratNovember 21, 2013 

An Edwardsville lawyer won a $2.4 million medical malpractice award from a Williamson County jury on Monday related to the death of a 47-year-old nurse who suffered a bowel obstruction.

Ramona "Sue" Yates died on March 11, 2007, after seeking treatment in a hospital's emergency room the evening before. Yates was suffering from severe back and abdominal pain.

Two years earlier, Yates underwent gastric bypass surgery. Bowel obstruction is a known complication of that surgery, said Paul Schoen, of Schoen, Walton, Telken and Foster Law Firm in Edwardsville, who represented Yates' survivors. Yates was married to her husband, Tom, for 24 years. The couple had a son, Andy, and a granddaughter, Mayla.

Schoen and R. Courtney Hughes, of The Hughes Law Firm in Carbondale, sued on behalf of the estate of Yates, a nurse at Choate Mental Health Center in Anna. The suit was filed 2009 named emergency room doctor, Dr. Daniel Doolittle, and the medical group that employed him, Legatus Emergency Services of Southern Illinois as defendants in the case. Yates, of Cobden, died at Carbondale Memorial Hospital.

Doolittle could not be reached for comment.

The jury trial began on Nov. 5. The jury deliberated two hours on Monday before delivering the $2,439,544 verdict. The verdict is based on actual damages. Under Illinois law, punitive damages are not allowed in medical malpractice cases.

"Nothing will bring Sue back, but I hope this verdict will bring some attention to medical malpractice deaths and what happened to Sue," Tom Yates said. "Most people don't think of the risks when they go in for treatment. I know we didn't. You never think it will happen to your loved one who suffers or even dies from a medical error. I'm just glad it's all over with and the jury agreed with us."

Contact reporter Beth Hundsdorfer at bhundsdorfer@bnd.com or 618-239-2570.

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