Richard Hunsaker

Mary Jo Kuca

Lawyers for Dolores Cantrell, M.D. say that a defense verdict reached in a Madison County medical malpractice trial last May should stand.

Cantrell, of Troy, had been sued by the estate of William Hoppe II claiming she misdiagnosed his unstable angina which caused his death the next day.

On May 11, after a nine-day trial, a Madison County ruled that Cantrell met the standard of care in treating Hoppe.

Richard Hunsaker of Heyl Royster in Edwardsville said it would be "fundamentally unfair to order a retrial" in response to plaintiff's attorney Morris Chapman's request in August for a new trial. Cantrell also was represented by Mary Jo Kuca of Heyl Royster.

Chapman, who represents Hoppe's estate, asked Madison County Chief Civil Judge Daniel J. Stack for a new trial claiming Cantrell gave an "undisclosed opinion," which violated Supreme Court Rule 213.

He also claims Stack "uniformly overruled" objections.

Chapman claims that during trial he presented substantial evidence, "much more probable than not," that Cantrell failed to follow standard of care established guidelines for evaluation of acute coronary syndrome (ACS).

Chapman contends that the question before the court and the jury was which group of health care providers apply these standards.

He claims American College of Cardiology (ACC) 2002 guidelines outline the standard of care for the treatment of ACS.

Chapman and his co-counsel Rocco Marrese claim Stack also allowed Hunsaker to use leading questions on direct examination that was highly prejudicial to their case.

"Throughout the direct examination of defendant's expert witnesses, defense counsel improperly used leading questions to elicit testimony from his own witnesses," Chapman wrote.

Hunsaker wrote that Chapman's pleading is misleading.

"While plaintiff's counsel would like the court to believe that the sole issue in the case revolves around whether or not American College of Cardiology guidelines apply to the field of Family Practice, it is clear that such a simplification of the issues is, at best, misleading."

Hunsaker also contends Stack's rulings were consistent with Rule 213 and notes the provision directs the court to liberally construe the Rule 213 "to do substantial justice between or among the parties."

"It is clear that there was no violation of Supreme Court Rule 213," Hunsaker wrote.

He also wrote, "…even if this court were to conclude that Dr. Cantrell's statement was a 213 violation, there is an abundance of evidence in the record, not objected to, which supports the jury's verdict that Dr. Cantrell complied with family practice standards of care."

Hunsaker also addressed Chapman's charge that Hunsaker used leading questions.

"It would be fundamentally unfair to order a retrial where plaintiff's counsel chose not to object, waiting until after return of the verdict, to complain about the form of various questions," Hunsaker wrote.

"If a question was improper, it should have been objected to at trial so that defense counsel could restate or rephrase the question."

Stack has set a hearing for the new trial at 9 a.m. on Oct. 25.

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