Jury hands down $8.5 million verdict against Heartland Regional - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Jury hands down $8.5 million verdict against Heartland Regional Medical Center

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UPDATED: MARCH 22, 2019 9:00 a.m.

MARION, Ill. -- Heartland Regional Medical Center released the following statement Friday morning to News 3 about Lowell Williamson's death:

"Heartland Regional Medical Center offers our sincere condolences to the Williamson Family. Heartland Regional is committed to providing safe, high-quality care to improve the health of our community, and grateful to be a health care resource for Southern Illinois. It is not our practice, however, to comment on the outcome of litigation." 

ORIGINAL STORY

MARION, Ill.  -- On Monday, Heartland Regional Medical Center admitted liability in the 2013 death of Lowell Williamson. Two days later, a Williamson County jury awarded his family $8.5 million in damages.
 
"He meant everything to our family. He was really the glue that held us together," Lowell's widow Madeline Williamson said. "Lowell was a wonderful husband and a great father. We were married over 38 years."

Lowell Williamson died after an elective surgery in August 2013.

Williamson's lawyers say a certified registered nurse anesthetist and hospital employees gave him a dangerous amount of anesthesia and failed to treat him in time.

The widow's lawyers also say that although a physician was required to be immediately available, the attending anesthesiologist did not respond to the emergency situation for approximately 55 minutes, despite multiple attempts to contact her.

"There were many experts in the case, and every single one of them, every anesthesiologist expert agreed, that Heartland's anesthesia department was a dysfunctional anesthesia department, that set up this type of disaster, and encouraged this type of information to occur," attorney Bradley Cosgrove said.

Cosgrove says the main goal of the lawsuit was to make sure what happened at Heartland never happens again.

Madeline says she's grateful to have closure, but thinks about her husband every day.

"We just miss him terribly, and we're so shocked that this ever happened. It will forever be a loss to us that we cannot ever describe."

The $8.5 million in damages is believed to be the highest personal injury verdict in Williamson County history.
 

Below is the full press release provided by Clifford Law Offices:

Clifford Law Offices Obtains Record $8.5 Million Verdict Against Heartland Regional Medical Center 

Bradley M. Cosgrove, partner at Clifford Law Offices, obtained a record $8.5 million verdict this afternoon (Wednesday, March 20, 2019) against the largest medical care facility in Williamson County for the death of a 60-year-old Marion man who died following elective shoulder surgery.

The jury reached what is believed to be the highest personal injury verdict in Williamson County in Marion, Illinois, before Judge Brad K. Bleyer in three hours.  The hospital had admitted liability just hours before the trial was set to begin Monday. on behalf of Madeline Williamson.  

“The jury obviously felt that the plaintiff was terribly wronged by the defendant Heartland Regional Medical Center when it did not properly monitor Lowell Williamson or examine his records prior to or during surgery,” Cosgrove said after the verdict was rendered.  It also had been alleged that doctors did not formulate a specific plan for anesthesia and did not make themselves available during the administration of the anesthesia. 

Lowell died when a certified registered nurse anesthetist and hospital employees administered a lethal dose of a gas known as Sevoflurane, causing Lowell to become dangerously hypotensive. Although a physician was required to be immediately available, the attending anesthesiologist did not respond to the emergency situation for approximately 55 minutes, despite multiple attempts to contact her. The anesthesiologist claimed that she was attending to another emergency in the hospital. In the week before trial, hospital records produced by the hospital showed that there was no other emergency. Lowell’s blood pressure became extremely low and he also became hypoxic. Later he was declared brain dead.

Charles R. Haskins, associate at the firm, assisted at trial. Mark Prince of the Prince Law Firm served as local counsel and co-trial counsel. Clifford Law Offices is a nationally recognized personal injury and wrongful death firm based in Chicago.

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