Jury rules in favor of defendant in med mal trial

Ann Knef May 23, 2005, 11:03am

Tim Richards

After deliberating less than two hours, a Madison County jury found in favor of Kevin Bell, M.D. who was on trial for allegations of medical malpractice.

"I have to say I was confident from the day I took this case," said defense attorney Tim Richards of Neville, Richards & Wuller of Belleville.

The trial, which lasted six days, pitted stroke victim George Wolfe and his wife, Donna, against Anderson Hospital physician Bell. They blamed him for not admitting Wolfe into the hospital when he showed signs of a stroke on June 13, 2002.

Wolfe was discharged, but returned two days later and was treated for a major stroke. He is partially paralyzed.

"I had all the confidence in the world that the jury would do the right thing and find that Dr. Bell did nothing wrong," Richards said.

Wolfe, of Granite City, was seeking at least $3 million for pain, suffering, disability, medical expenses, lost wages, anxiety and depression.

The eight-count suit, filed by George and Donna Wolfe on Dec. 15, 2003, originally named Anderson Hospital, Legatus Emergency Services, Sarah Scott, M.D. and Bell. All defendants except Bell settled with Wolfe and were dismissed from the suit.

Richards said an educated jury arrived at a correct decision.

Expert witnesses for the defense--Marshall Hale, M.D. of Virginia, Ill. and Seemant Thaturbedi, M.D., a stroke specialist from Wayne State University in Detroit--testified Thursday and Friday. Richards said that testimony proved his client was not at fault.

"I believe educating the fact finders--be it the court or the jurors--with medical concepts was a demonstration of why his (Bell's) care was appropriate," Richards said. "It also showed that the things they (Wolfes') said should have been done would not have made a difference."

Last month a Madison County jury found in favor of Greenville Hospital in a medical malpractice trial. The plaintiff blamed the hospital for not diagnosing her late husband's pulmonary embolism.

"Once the jury had a good understanding of strokes and what can and cannot be done, that showed what was done was appropriate," Richards said.

Richards also said he did not "cherry pick" his experts. He hired the first two he spoke with.

"This case was the first time Dr. Thaturbedi has testified for defense," Richards said. "He was very objective and knowledgable."

Richards emphasized Wolfe undoubtedly had devastating injuries, but nothing would have prevented the stroke from happening in the first place.

"Obviously I wish Mr. and Mrs. Wolfe the best," he said. "He has a bad condition with his stroke."

The jury was composed of six men, six women and one male alternate.

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Anderson Hospital
6800 State Route 162
Maryville, IL 62062

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