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Carmel Cosgrave and Colin Gainer of SmithAmundsen successfully defended their client, a large suburban hospital, at trial against a claim of apparent agency.  In this highly publicized case, the jury ultimately rendered a verdict in favor of the plaintiff in the amount $15.55 million. The verdict has been reported as the third-largest medical malpractice verdict in Cook County, Ill. While other co-defendants were held liable, the finding in favor of SmithAmundsen’s client appears to be the first time that a jury found a hospital not guilty on an apparent agency theory, while still finding that the alleged agent was liable for professional negligence.

The facts of the case involved a rare medical condition called placenta percreta, which involved growth of the placenta into and through the uterine wall. The plaintiff alleged that multiple physicians and hospitals that treated the patient over the course of her pregnancy failed to identify the placenta percreta on ultrasound and failed to properly treat the condition at the time of the delivery. The delivery occurred at the hospital represented by Ms. Cosgrave and Mr. Gainer, and the obstetrician was alleged to be the agent of this hospital.  The plaintiff alleged that the 32-year-old mother of two died as a result of hemorrhaging from complications with the placenta percreta.  Ms. Cosgrave and Mr. Gainer successfully demonstrated and argued to the jury that the obstetrician, who delivered the patient, had seen the patient at her own private office for approximately seven years before the physician ever treated the patient at the Hospital. The plaintiff was represented by Keith Hebeisen of Clifford’s Law office.