The Chicago Personal Injury Law Blog

Parents Awarded $22.3M For Boy's Lost Leg

It's hard to put a price on something like a left leg, especially one lost at two weeks of age as a result of medical negligence. A Cook County jury (Sun-Times), at least, valued the damages -- nothing less than a lifetime with only one leg -- at $22.3 million.

And while some medical malpractice suits (probably a highly publicized minority of them) are frivolous, this legal action was certainly legitimate.

Now 10 years old, Jake Tinman was born with a congenital heart defect at Christ Medical Center/Hope Children's Hospital in Oak Lawn on May 15, 1999. The defect required a shunt, a relatively routine procedure (National Institutes of Health) that allows excess fluid to be drained from the skull.

But the procedure is not without its risks, as the NIH's description thoroughly explains. Infection and clotting are the two main risks of the procedure.

Two weeks after Jake's parents brought him home, they rushed him to the emergency room for unspecified reasons. A series of delays (this is the ER after all) and negligent care ultimately led to his leg-losing injuries, according to the suit.

It's difficult to understand exactly what happened without a copy of the complaint, but the article states that the hospital's "failure to make a timely diagnosis" of the boy's "shunt problem" and then subjecting him to an "unnecessary" catherization led to the injury. The suit also states that his left leg was improperly dressed and that his pulse was not monitored, according to the article.

His leg had to be amputated and he also suffered cognitive deficiencies and developmental delays. The jury agreed that the injuries could have been avoided.