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06/26/87 Edward A. Karsten, v. Robert Mccray Et Al.

June 26, 1987

JOAN E. KARSTEN, A DISABLED PERSON, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS

v.

ROBERT MCCRAY ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, SECOND DISTRICT

EDWARD A. KARSTEN, Guardian of the Person and Estate of

509 N.E.2d 1376, 157 Ill. App. 3d 1, 109 Ill. Dec. 364 1987.IL.905

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Du Page County; the Hon. Richard A. Lucas, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE INGLIS delivered the opinion of the court. DUNN and NASH, JJ., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE INGLIS

In this medical malpractice action, plaintiffs appeal from orders entering judgment on a jury verdict in favor of defendants and denying plaintiffs' motion for a new trial. Plaintiffs challenge the propriety of certain defense counsel conduct and trial court rulings which plaintiffs contend denied them a fair trial. We reverse and remand this cause for a new trial consistent with the views expressed below.

In April 1979, Joan E. Karsten (Joan) was vacationing in Florida, at which time she experienced cramping in her stomach. Joan returned home from vacation on April 24, 1979. On April 28, 1979, Joan complained to her husband, plaintiff, Edward A. Karsten (Edward), of stomach pain. On April 29, 1979, at approximately 5:30 a.m., Edward took Joan to Central Du Page Hospital for treatment of a sharp pain in the lower right side of her stomach.

Joan was initially seen by Dr. Valentino Menis and was admitted to the hospital. Joan was seen again at approximately 10:30 a.m. by defendant, Dr. Robert McCray. Dr. McCray was unable to make a conclusive diagnosis; however, his initial impression was that Joan had early acute appendicitis. Dr. McCray ordered a series of tests. Joan's pain continued through the evening of April 29, 1979. Dr. McCray next saw Joan at approximately 1:30 p.m. on April 30, 1979. At that time, Dr. McCray's impression was that Joan had a ruptured appendix. Approximately five hours later, Dr. McCray performed surgery. During surgery, Dr. McCray encountered an abscess which he felt was one to two weeks old. Dr. McCray drained the abscess and left the wound open for further draining. Joan was allowed to recover at the hospital until May 8, 1979, when Dr. McCray ordered that she be discharged. Joan was discharged by defendant, Dr. Glen H. Asselmeier. Upon discharge, Joan's wound was still open and draining. She was released without an antibiotic.

On May 11, 1979, Joan went to the outpatient department of the hospital where she was examined by Dr. Asselmeier. Dr. Asselmeier performed an incision and drained a developing abscess. Following this procedure, Dr. Asselmeier prescribed an antibiotic and pain-killer and released Joan.

On May 13, 1979, Joan experienced jerking, twitching, and slurred speech. On May 14, 1979, Joan went to the emergency room of the hospital where she was again seen by Dr. Asselmeier. Dr. Asselmeier took Joan's history and performed a physical examination. Dr. Asselmeier advised Joan that she did not require hospitalization, but admitted her to the hospital for observation on Edward's insistence. Dr. Asselmeier ordered a series of tests and arranged for a consultation with Dr. Paul Menet. Dr. Menet also ordered a series of tests. Dr. Menet's impression was that Joan had sepsis, an infection in the bloodstream. That same day, Joan was examined by Dr. McCray, who similarly concluded that Joan had sepsis.

On May 15, 1979, Dr. McCray examined Joan and found an abscess about the size of a hen's egg by probing her surgical wound with his fingers. No other abscess was found. On May 17, 1979, Joan complained of right flank pain consistent with an abscess in that area. That same day, Joan had a grand mal seizure. She registered a rectal temperature of 105 degrees and subsequently lapsed into a coma. Although tests taken at that time did not reveal any further abscess, additional consultations and examinations produced impressions that Joan was suffering from sepsis, which was creating a neurological disorder.

On May 20, 1979, Joan was being treated for septic shock and disseminated intravascular coagulation. Although Joan was being treated for possible infection, bacteria were not found in the blood or urine cultures taken during her hospitalization. Furthermore, the cause of Joan's coma was not conclusively explained.

For the duration of her hospital stay, Joan experienced kidney and renal failure, respiratory failure, and a central nervous system disorder. Joan's coma lasted until the first week in July. On July 9, 1979, Joan was transferred to Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital. Currently, Joan suffers from impaired coordination and balance; impaired speech, attention, and memory; and generalized weakness of her four extremities.

On August 15, 1980, Joan and Edward A. Karsten filed suit against Valentino Menis, M.D., Robert McCray, M.D., Glen H. Asselmeier, M.D., and Central Du Page Hospital. Valentino Menis was subsequently dismissed, and Glen Ellyn Clinical Facilities, Inc., was added as a defendant. On April 28, 1983, Glen Ellyn Clinic, S.C., was added as a defendant. Drs. McCray and Asselmeier were agents and employees of both Glen Ellyn Clinical Facilities, Inc., and Glen Ellyn Clinic, S.C. On September 20, 1984, the trial court entered an order substituting Glen Ellyn Clinic, S.C., for Glen Ellyn Clinical Facilities, Inc. On February 15, 1985, the court allowed plaintiffs to substitute Edward A. Karsten, guardian of the estate and person of Joan E. Karsten, a disabled person, as a proper party plaintiff in place of Joan E. Karsten.

The trial commenced on March 4, 1985. Plaintiffs presented two motions in limine. The first motion requested that defendants be prohibited from introducing testimony that Joan suffered from a condition of abdominal pain in Florida prior to April 29, 1979. This motion was denied. Plaintiffs' second motion requested that defendants be prohibited from introducing any evidence or making any reference suggesting that Joan suffered from a condition of weakness, central nervous system disorder, or multiple sclerosis at any time prior to her hospitalization on April 29, 1979. Defendants promised to call an expert, Dr. John Shaw, to provide evidence of a connection between a previous condition of weakness and Joan's current condition. Based on defendants' promise, this motion was also denied. Dr. Asselmeier also presented a motion in limine to bar plaintiffs from introducing testimony relating ...


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