Judge awards $2.2M in medical negligence case

MORRISON, Ill. — A Whiteside County judge has ordered a local hospital, two doctors, and a medical organization to pay $2.2 million as the result of a civil lawsuit verdict issued in May.

Whiteside County Judge Patricia Senneff on Friday entered the civil judgment totaling $2,022,195 against all named defendants, Dr. Zewdu Haile, Dr. Duncan Dinkha, Acute Care, Inc. and the Morrison Community Hospital District.

According to Sterling, Illinois, attorney James Mertes, the judgment incorporates a Whiteside County jury’s verdict in favor of a 2-year-old boy who was the subject of a medical negligence lawsuit.

Mertes, who represents the plaintiffs, said the lawsuit stemmed from a November 2011 incident in which the toddler sustained injuries after a physician applied a wrap to his wrist following a fall down the stairs. In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs alleged that Haile applied a wrap that was too tight on the child’s arm, cutting off circulation to the arm, hand and wrist and causing permanent injuries to the child. The plaintiffs further alleged that Dinkha then failed to remove that wrap when the child was later returned to the emergency room. All of the conduct alleged in the suit occurred at Morrison Community Hospital.

The jury’s verdict was returned May 13 at the end of a nine-day jury trial. It took the jury less than 2 1⁄2 hours to render its verdict in favor of the child and against all defendants.

It was an all-time record high verdict in Whiteside County, Mertes said.

"We are disappointed with the jury's verdict but respect their time and attention during trial," Morrison Community Hospital CEO Pam Pfister wrote in a statement issued after Friday's order.