The family of a deceased woman represented by Edwardsville attorney Paul Schoen was recently awarded $2.4 million by a Williamson County jury following a medical malpractice trial.
The damage award is said to be the second largest in Williamson County history, second only to the $1.05 billion Avery v. State Farm verdict reached more than a decade ago, according to plaintiff's counsel.
Jurors deliberated two hours on Nov. 18, finding in favor of the family of Sue Yates, a 47-year-old registered nurse who worked at Choate Mental Health Center in Anna and lived in Cobden.
Her family filed the medical malpractice lawsuit against defendants Dr. Daniel Doolittle and Legatus Emergency Services of Southern Illinois.
Circuit Judge Brad Bleyer presided over the two-week long trial.
The Yateses claimed Sue Yates was admitted to Carbondale Memorial Hospital after complaining of severe back and abdominal pain. Their suit accused Doolittle of misdiagnosing her condition, resulting in her death on March 11, 2007, due to a bowel obstruction.
Doolittle did not order more tests, seek other medical consultation or have Sue Yates transported to another hospital. Instead, he sent her to the observation ward to be treated for back spasms.
Sue Yates is survived by husband, son and granddaughter.
“I feel so badly for Sue and her family,” Schoen said in a statement. “We felt all along this was a preventable death. She deserved someone fighting on her behalf and that’s what we did. It took nearly six years but we had to keep fighting for Sue and her family, to try and make things right as best we could.”
The family was also represented by R. Courtney Hughes of the Hughes Law Firm in Carbondale.
“Most people who suffer a medical malpractice never file a suit and of those who do, having a med mal case go to trial is rare and difficult," Hughes said in a statement.
"We have heard this is the largest jury verdict in Williamson County besides the State Farm case. Either way, a $2.4 million dollar verdict is very rare in Southern Illinois. This jury looked past stereotypes and focused on the facts and they deserve credit for that."