Reprinted with permission from Chicago Daily Law Bulletin
Originally posted 10/3/2023
Written by Grace Barbic
Cook jury awards $8.9M over arm lost to infection
A Cook County jury awarded $8.9 million to a man who had to have his left arm amputated due to a flesh-eating disease that allegedly went undiagnosed by doctors at an Aurora hospital.
On Nov. 15, 2016, Derek Windsor, then 34, went to Rush Copley Medical Center in Aurora complaining of pain in his left arm, a fever and chills.
While at the emergency room, a CT scan was conducted on Windsor.
Wilson Chang, an apparent agent of Rush Copley, interpreted the scan.
The scan allegedly showed gas under the skin, which can be a sign of a flesh-eating bacteria, the attorneys noted.
But Chang allegedly determined Windsor had cellulitis, a common bacterial skin infection that causes redness, swelling and pain in the infected area of the skin.
According to the complaint, Chang discussed the case with Nedim Ozcakir, a physician with EMPact Emergency Physicians LLC and an apparent agent of Rush Copley.
Windsor was admitted to the hospital for monitoring and given IV antibiotics.
By the time Windsor was seen by a doctor the following morning, on Nov. 16, 2016, the infection had moved up his arm, according to his attorneys.
He was taken into surgery for debridement, the removal of damaged tissue from a wound.
Once in surgery, it was determined that Windsor’s arm had to be amputated because he had a flesh-eating disease, otherwise referred to as necrotizing fasciitis.
Windsor filed a medical negligence, personal injury suit against Rush Copley, EMPact and its agents, among other defendants.
The complaint alleged the defendants failed to timely diagnose his infection and failed to appreciate the seriousness of his condition, among other claims.
The case went to trial Aug. 25 before Cook County Circuit Court Judge Gerald V. Cleary.
The jury returned a verdict in favor of Windsor and against Rush Copley, EMPact and its apparent agents Chang and Ozcakir on Sept. 26.
The award covers pain and suffering, loss of normal life and disfigurement.
According to a court order, the verdict is also subject to prejudgment interest, which will bring the $8.9 million award to just over $10 million, based on the plaintiff’s attorneys’ calculations.
Windsor is represented by Francis P. Morrissey of Wise Morrissey LLC and Patrick C. Anderson of Juris Writer LLC.
“I’m grateful to the jury for setting aside any bias that they might have had going into the case knowing that the plaintiff was an IV drug user,” Morrissey said. “They were able to … decide the case on the facts and the law as Judge Cleary instructed them. For that, Derek Windsor and I are very grateful.”
Rush Copley is represented by Marilee Clausing and John W. Travis of Hall Prangle & Schoonveld, LLC.
Rush “is evaluating its post-verdict options and remains strongly committed to providing all patients the highest quality care,” a spokesperson said in a written statement.
EMPact and Ozcakir are represented by Michael J. Borree and Jennifer M. Labus of Donohue Brown Mathewson & Smyth LLC. Those attorneys could not be reached for comment.
The case is Windsor v. Rush-Copley Medical Center, et al., 2018 L 012222.