Verdict: $814,444 v Cardiovascular Consultants S.C. d/b/a Cardiovascular Medical Associates S.C. ($350,000 loss of normal life; $200,000 pain & suffering; $50,000 disfigurement; $175,000 emotional distress; $39,444 medical expenses); Not Guilty v Dr. Vincent A. Kucich.
Judge: Barbara A. McDonald (IL Cook-Law)
Pltf Atty(s): David A. Axelrod of David A. Axelrod & Associates DEMAND: $150,000 ASKED: $964,444
Deft Atty(s): Francis R. Petrek, Jr. of Bollinger, Ruberry & Garvey for both defts (ISMIE) OFFER: none
Deft Medl: Dr. Daniel Hirsch (Infectious Disease), Dr. David A. Dreyfuss (Plastic Surgeon) and Dr. Hershel Wix (Cardiologist) for both defts
Pltf Expert(s): Dr. Barry Fields (Cardiothoracic Surgeon)
Deft Expert(s): Dr. Ronald Curran (Cardiothoracic Surgeon) for both defts
Nov. 26, 1996, Dr. Kucich performed coronary bypass surgery on James Petre at St. Francis Hospital, Blue Island. While awaiting surgery, Petre had been given antibiotics Clindamycin and Ceftazadime for 8 days for suspected aspiration pneumonia (neither of which is effective against methicillin-resistant staph bacteria). On the day of discharge from the hospital, Dec. 2, 1996, patient M-53 developed serous drainage from his sternal incision, which was cultured and found to be positive for methicillin-resistant staph epidermitis. Dr. Kucich never saw patient after he was discharged. On Jan. 3, 1997, Petre was ultimately diagnosed with a sternal wound infection caused by the methicillin-resistant staph epidermitis, requiring surgical removal of sternum, use of muscle flaps taken from pectoralis muscles to stabilize the chest, and 6 weeks of IV Vancomycin therapy ($39,444 medl. bills). Pltf contended Dr. Kucich should have used Vancomycin as a prophylactic antibiotic in conjunction with the bypass surgery because the patient's skin had likely been colonized with methicillinresistant staph bacteria due to the 8 days of Ceftazadime and Clindamycin, Vancomycin is specifically effective against methicillin-resistant bacteria, and Dr. Kucich and his staff (Cardiovascular Consultants S.C.) failed to properly respond to the drainage and culture. Dr. Kucich reportedly admitted on cross-exam that his staff had the culture results but failed to either advise him or the cardiologist who was following Petre after the surgery, and also conceded that this was a breach of the standard of care by his staff. Defense argued the standard of care only required the use of Vancomycin as a prophylactic antibiotic when the patient was penicillin allergic or already on Vancomycin for an existing infection, defts did not breach the standard of care in their post-bypass care, Dr. Kucich saw patient on a daily basis at St. Francis until he was released, the plan after discharge was for Petre to see cardiologist Dr. Hershel Wix in Kankakee (where pltf lived), and it was Wix who negligently failed to diagnose the infection in a timely manner and was the sole proximate cause of the patient's injuries. First trial of case in 2000 resulted in a $465,000 verdict (see RR 48/2), which was reversed on appeal with the appellate court ruling that the opinions of defts' expert as to the post-bypass negligence of Wix and others should have been admitted at trial. Appellate court also ruled IPI 12.04 should have been read to the jury: Petre v Kucich, 331 Ill.App.3d 395 (1st Dist. 2002), petition for leave to appeal denied 201 111.2d 613 (2002). Retrial in 2003 resulted in a defense verdict (UU 27 /5), which was again reversed on appeal, this time for failure to instruct jury with IPI 12.04: Petre v Kucich, 356 Ill.App.3d 57 (1st Dist. 2005).
James Petre died on Aug. 31, 2000, after the first trial.
Note: For a summary of subsequent appellate action regarding this case, see the Jury Verdict Reporter's Appellate Review of Damages a 9 ARD 4. (c) 2012 Law Bulletin Publishing Company