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Pfaff, Gill & Ports, Ltd. reaches $3 million settlement for cauda equina syndrome case

J.T., a 30 year‐old Chicagoland woman, presented to the Emergency Department at a local Chicago hospital with severe back pain. She was admitted to that hospital under the care of H.A., M.D., a hospitalist employed by United Elite Hospitalists, LLC.

While an inpatient and under Dr. H.A.'s care, J.T. developed saddle anesthesia and urinary retention. Dr. H.A. ordered a neurosurgical consult and spoke with A.A., M.D. via telephone. The substance of that telephone consult was in dispute.

Dr. H.A. claimed that he told Dr. A.A. all relevant details regarding J.T.'s presentation but could not recall the specific conversation. Dr. A.A. testified that Dr. H.A. told him the patient had back pain and urinary retention but failed to mention the large herniated disc found on an MRI.

Per Dr. A.A., had Dr. H.A. told him there was a large herniated disc, Dr. A.A. would have seen J.T. immediately. That did not happen. Dr. A.A. told Dr. H.A. he would come in the next day to see J.T. Upon his arrival the next day, Dr. A.A. examined the patient and took her immediately to the operating room. J.T. continues to suffer from cauda equina syndrome due to the delay in decompressing her nerves.

Settlement was reached at a pretrial settlement conference shortly before the case was to be assigned to a judge for trial. A total of $3,021,803.98 was paid as follows: a) $1M - local Chicago hospital (self‐insured); b) Dr. H.A. ‐ $1M (Lloyd's of London); c) United Elite Hospitalists, LLC ‐ $796,803.98 (Landmark American, depleting limits policy); and d) Dr. A.A. ‐ $225,000.

J.T. was represented by Michael T. Gill of Pfaff, Gill & Ports, Ltd.

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