Med mal trial involving Belleville neurosurgeon settles

Christina Stueve Apr. 24, 2012, 9:38am



A settlement was reached Tuesday before lunch in a medical malpractice lawsuit against Belleville neurosurgeon Dr. William Sprich.

St. Clair County Judge Lloyd Cueto informed the jury of the settlement once they gathered in the courtroom after lunch, and Cueto told them they were free to go. The jury was originally told the case could last until Friday.

Ronda Berkemeier, 55, of Addieville, sued Sprich and the Neurological Services of Belleville for more than $50,000 following a surgery Sprich supervised Nov. 20, 2002 at Memorial Hospital.

Berkemeier thanked the jury for their service after Cueto's announcement.

Her attorney Paul Johnson of the SL Chapman Law Firm in Alton told the Record over the telephone that Berkemeier was pleased with the outcome.

"We are unable to comment on the terms of the settlement," Johnson said. "I'm very happy for Ronda Berkemeier that she had the opportunity to litigate her matter in front of a jury of her peers."

Defense attorney Jim Neville of Belleville had not returned a phone call since the settlement was announced.

Berkemeier's complaint alleged that Sprich "negligently and carelessly failed to use the proper and necessary skill in performing the anterior cervical discectomy and takedown of the previously failed graft with Tutigen bone implantation."

Johnson told the jury during opening statements Monday that Berkemeier suffers from permanent nerve damage.

"This waking up, and all the sudden, your shoulder is dead for the rest of your life is a known complication of this kind of surgery, and no one told that to Ronda Berkemeier," he said.

"She could not move her right arm at all after the surgery. There's no muscle function. Those nerves were cut. Every doctor in this case, they all agree."

The lawsuit states that Berkemeier suffered injury to the nerves in her right arm and around her spinal cord, and injury to her body as a whole.

Johnson told the jury Berkemeier was a divorced mother who worked three jobs.

"We are not saying he's a bad doctor," Johnson said. "We are saying he caused irreparable damage to Ronda Berkemeier for the rest of her life."

The case is St. Clair County Case Number 03-L-562.

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