In early November of this year, a Cook County jury ordered that ISMIE Mutual Insurance, the state of Illinois’ largest medical malpractice insurance company, to pay a whopping $14.3 million to the family of a baby born with a brain injury caused by oxygen deprivation.
Judgment Order Issued for “Bad Faith” Actions
According to an article published in the Chicago Tribune, the judgment order was issued due to the “bad faith” actions of the insurance company. According to the Cook County jury, ISMIE acted in bad faith when it failed to settle the medical malpractice case out-of-court, instead bringing the case to litigation. In fact, the majority of the $14.3 million order was in the form of punitive damages.
The History of the Case
The judgment order stemmed from the 2004 case of two plaintiff parents, Alizabeth and Elvin Hana, who gave birth to a daughter that year who was born with a brain injury. Three years later, the daughter died from complications related to the brain injury. According to the plaintiffs, the cause of their daughter’s brain injury was oxygen deprivation caused by medical negligence.
The couple sued Rush North Shore hospital (where the baby was born), emergency room doctors at the hospital, and obstetricians as well. Both the hospital and the ER doctors settled out of court. However, while the parents won a judgment against the obstetricians, their malpractice policy (under ISMIE) would not pay the full amount. Under the policy, the malpractice payout limit was capped at five million dollars; the Hana’s awarded amount was for $6.17 million. As such, the couple filed the bad faith lawsuit directly against the insurance company. The parents recovered their $1.35 million—ISMIE originally only paid $4.8 million of the $6.17—as well as $13 million in punitive damages.
The Rights of Injured Parties to Seek Damages
The case above highlights the rights of injured parties—or those persons who have lost a child or family member—to seek damages when the injuries/losses would not have occurred but for acts of medical malpractice. Furthermore, the case also highlights the role of punitive damages in medical malpractice and bad faith claims. Punitive damages, which are ordered as a method of punishing the defendant for egregious behavior, are rare in Illinois. However, as is evident in the story above, recovering punitive damages is possible. And, unlike other states in the nation that limit that amount of punitive damages recoverable, Illinois has no cap on this damages type. In fact, in a 2010 Illinois Supreme Court decision, the court struck down limits on noneconomic damages in general.
You Deserve Your Full Damages Amount
If you are a victim of medical malpractice in the state of Illinois, do not hesitate to speak with an attorney. You deserve your full damages amount – the experienced Illinois medical malpractice attorneys at Fisk & Monteleone LTD. will advocate for you every step of the way. Serving Rockford, Belvidere, Loves Park, Rochelle, Roscoe, Freeport, Marengo, and Cherry Valley, we are reachable for a free case consultation today at 815-315-0592.