Defense verdict reached in Madison County med mal trial

By Steve Gonzalez | Oct 24, 2007

After deliberating just two hours, a Madison County jury returned a verdict in favor of Dr. Charles Sammis who was on trial for medical malpractice.

"The evidence was overwhelming in favor of one side," said a juror after the trial.

Joseph Lamere of Bethalto filed the med-mal suit against Sammis alleging he failed to diagnose a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) which led to a series of strokes that left him paralyzed on the left side of his body.

A TIA is a transient stroke that lasts only a few minutes and occurs when the blood supply to parts of the brain is briefly interrupted. TIA symptoms, which usually occur suddenly, are similar to those of stroke but do not last as long. Symptoms disappear within an hour, although they may persist for up to 24 hours.

Lamere, 57, was retired at the time of his strokes after completing a near four decade career at Illinois Bell.

He was represented by John Hopkins of Edwardsville and Evan Schaeffer of Godfrey.

Hopkins told the jury panel consisting of eight men and four women that on Jan. 12, 2003, Lamere was driving his car home after eating lunch and began to swerve between lanes.

He said Lamere's wife, Debbie, told doctors that he could not even figure out how to take his seatbelt off and that he had a blank stare.

Hopkins argued that Dr. Sammis negligently assumed Lamere had a brain tumor when he actually had a TIA.

According to Hopkins, instead of treating Lamere for a TIA, Dr. Samos scheduled a follow-up appointment more than a week later.

It was during that time that Lamere suffered a series of strokes that damaged his brain and caused the left side of his body to sustain permanent damage, Hopkins contended.

Jeffrey Glass of Belleville, Dr Sammis' attorney, argued that Lamere's family history of strokes led to his demise.

He also argued that there was nothing Sammis could have done medically that would have prevented the strokes from taking place.

Glass also argued that the defense does not believe Lamere suffered a TIA, but actually a stroke. He also argued that a hole in Lamere's heart made him susceptible to strokes.

During the trial, Debbie Lamere testified that her husband has never been the same since the strokes and that he needs someone to be with him at all times.

Sammis now practices medicine in Wisconsin near the Milwaukee area.

Madison County Associate Judge Tom Chapman presided over the Lamere trial.

This was the second medical malpractice trial in Madison County this month.

On Oct. 5 after a three-day trial jurors reached a verdict in favor of plaintiff Judy Thiel of Collinsville who had alleged obstetrician Tina Gingrich, M.D. deviated from the standard of care when delivering a baby who suffers from Erb's Palsy.

Thiel had asked for $1.2 million in damages, but was only granted $200,000.

Thiel alleged Gingrich failed to perform a caesarian section when she had been in the second stage of labor for approximately three hours and the labor failed to adequately progress.

Circuit Judge Andy Matoesian presided over the Thiel trial.

Last week jurors in a wrongful death case against Rosewood Care Center in Edwardsville awarded nearly $59,000 to the family of a woman whose neck and back injuries suffered during a fall in her room on Dec. 21, 2003, led to her death.

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