Chicago Office Secures Directed Verdict for Doctor in Complex Medical Malpractice Case

Chicago, Ill. (March 18, 2024) - Chicago Partners Maggie Fitzsimmons and Charles Cole recently obtained a directed verdict on behalf of a doctor in a complex psychiatric medical malpractice case, following a three-week trial. 

The circumstances giving rise to the case date back more than eight years, when the plaintiff patient - who was a chronic alcoholic - visited the emergency room of a Chicago hospital seeking a medical clearance so she could enter a detox program. The hospital staff and Lewis Brisbois' client, an emergency medicine doctor, performed an appropriate assessment and requested an evaluation from a psychiatric social worker who staffed the emergency room. When the evaluation was delayed, the patient became irate and belligerent and demanded to depart against medical advice. The emergency medicine doctor determined that the patient was decisional and that no basis existed to hold her. 

After leaving the department, the patient walked over to the parking garage and drank a large quantity of vodka. About 90 minutes later, she either jumped or fell from the third floor of the structure, suffering catastrophic injuries. In the ensuing lawsuit, filed in 2016, the patient contended that this incident was a suicide attempt that could have been averted if she had been held prior to departing against medical advice. 

However, the patient failed to produce competent medical proof that the incident was a suicide attempt that was foreseeable to a medical professional. At trial, the plaintiff's counsel - seeking more than $2 million in damages - made numerous claims of fraud, corporate conspiracy, and withholding of evidence against the defendants. In the end, the trial judge held that the plaintiff had failed to prove a deviation from the applicable standard of care and failed to prove proximate causation.  

Ms. Fitzsimmons is a member of the Medical Malpractice Department. Her practice also involves the representation of professionals including architects, engineers, and attorneys. She also has actively represented clients in general liability matters, class action litigation, and products liability cases. After admission to the Illinois Bar, Ms. Fitzsimmons has spent her career trying complex and significant matters to verdict in Illinois as well as many other states, both in state and federal courts.

Mr. Cole is a member of the Medical Malpractice Department, and spends the majority his time defending physicians and other healthcare providers. He has tried more than 80 cases to verdict involving multi-million-dollar exposures. His practice areas and trial experience include medical malpractice, professional liability, complex construction matters, amusement claims, commercial litigation, transportation negligence, and general liability defense.

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