Mary Kay Scott and Christopher Leach obtained a not guilty verdict for a defendant pediatrician for a trial in the Circuit Court of Cook County

Tried 01/08/20 – 01/21/20

Mary Kay Scott and Christopher Leach represented a defendant pediatrician and the practice corporation in a law suit involving a minor male plaintiff (who was of age by the time the case went to trial, having been voluntarily dismissed by the plaintiff in January of 2018). The case alleged a delay in diagnosis of scoliosis. The minor was seen from 2002 through August of 2012, in the pediatric practice. He was seen for many well visits, as well as pre-operative clearance for surgery, and annual well visits or annual exams. The plaintiff had a history of asthma and was seen at a hospital emergency department in December of 2008, for coughing, and vomiting with cough in the middle of the night. Plaintiff claimed that a chest x-ray taken to evaluate the lungs for the cough showed a mild curve of the spine. The x-ray report by a pediatric radiologist was sent to the pediatrician and made no reference to a spinal curve and no finding of any abnormality. The pediatric radiologist and a pediatric endocrinologist who he was referred to by the pediatrician were also defendants, and were represented by separate counsel.

The pediatrician saw the plaintiff for well care visits and did the forward bend test to screen for scoliosis at each well visit and documented performing that test. Each of the annual well visits showed documentation of straight back or no scoliosis. The child had constitutional growth delay and familial short stature, and was referred to the pediatric endocrinologist for those issues. The defendant pediatrician last saw the patient on June 20, 2011, for a well visit and documented no scoliosis. On August 23, 2012, 14 months after the last well visit with the defendant pediatrician, another pediatrician in the office saw plaintiff for his well visit. At that time, the child had grown three inches in fourteen months, and had a finding of a curve on the forward bend test, and with a scoliometer in the office. The patient was referred appropriately to an orthopedic surgeon, who did a full spine scoliosis series, which is the test to diagnose scoliosis. He was found to have a 54 degree curve on August 30, 2012. Recommendations were made to proceed to spinal fusion surgery, and multiple second opinions were obtained with other spinal surgeons by the family, and ultimately in April of 2013, the patient had the surgery. The surgery was a complete success, and he went on to college and will be graduating in 2020.
The plaintiff’s theory as to the defendant pediatrician was that either she did not perform the forward bend test, or that she did it inappropriately. Further the plaintiff’s opinion expert argued by having a chart that documented by exclusion, that is the chart was set up to document normal exams, and abnormal findings were documented, that it led to not doing the full physical exam. These arguments were denied by the defendant pediatrician, and the pediatrician in the practice who identified the abnormality, as well as the pediatrician retained by the defendant as an opinion witness.

The plaintiff asked for $2,750,000 to $4,000,000, and the verdict was a not guilty for all defendants.