Med mal defendants in new trial face tougher test

By Steve Gonzalez | Feb 8, 2007

Rex Carr

Lisa Franke

Unlike the last two medical malpractice trials held in Madison County, defendants in a current trial may not come out on top.

Alton Memorial Hospital and Samuel Essma, M.D. face a six-count, $300,000 suit brought by James and Alice Halloway of Godfrey in 2005. James Halloway claims Essma failed to identify ionic contrast dye prior to injecting into his spinal canal during a myelogram at Alton Memorial on Jan. 16, 2004.

The defendants have admitted negligence, just not to the extent the Halloways claim.

The hospital and Essma admit they used the wrong dye during the myelogram, but claim the plaintiff's back injuries are consistent with his conditions of spinal stenosis and osteoarthritis.

Represented by Rex Carr of East St. Louis, James Halloway claims he suffered permanent and disabling injuries to his spinal cord and to the nerves serving his legs and feet, lost large sums of money in medical care, and suffers unremitting permanent pain and disability.

Alice Halloway alleges that she has been deprived of the consortium and services of her husband.

According to court documents, Essma will testify that he worked with technician Connie Ritter, the woman who brought the wrong dye, on previous myelograms and assumed she knew the proper contrast to be used for such a procedure.

He will testify that he was shown the bottle of contrast Ritter brought in, but was talking to James at the time and did not specifically note that the material in the bottle was the wrong kind.

Essma also will testify that once he learned he injected the wrong contrast, he and others took proper action to correct the problem.

James Killeffer, M.D. will testify in Essma's behalf. He is expected to say that the effect of the contrast was transient and resulted in little, if any, permanent damage to Halloway.

He will also testify that the most likely source of Halloway's back pain was the result of prior back surgeries.

Essma is represented by J. Thaddeus Eckenrode of St. Louis.

The hospital, represented by Lisa Franke of Hepler Broom, will call Randall Rogalsky, M.D. who treated Halloway prior to his myelogram.

He is expected to say that Halloway has suffered from progressive spinal stenosis, femoral nerve entrapment that causes groin pain along with pain, burning and aching of the anterior thigh.

John Selhorst, M.D. will testify that the wrong contrast resulted in an irritation to the spinal cord, but it resolved during Halloway's admission to the hospital.

He will further testify that Halloway's symptoms are consistent with spinal stenosis, a pre-existing condition and that he suffered no permanent injuries as a result of the ionic contrast.

Madison County juries have ruled in favor of defendants in the last two medical malpractice trials. Last year jurors ruled that Troy physician Dolores Cantrell, M.D. met the standard of care in treating William Hoppe, II.

Two weeks ago, Patrick Zimmermann, M.D. of Family Medicine Associates in Collinsville was cleared of any wrongdoing after a two-week jury trial.

The Halloway trial is expected to last two weeks.

Madison County Circuit Judge David Hylla is presiding.

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