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Johnson Secures Summary Judgment for Hospital in Spine Injury Case Seeking Millions in Damages

March 7, 2023

Johnson & Bell Shareholder, Matthew L. Johnson, recently obtained summary judgment in favor of his hospital client in a multi-million dollar medical malpractice case in DuPage County.  In March 2017, plaintiff sustained multiple injuries to his spine following a serious motor vehicle accident.  He was admitted to a suburban hospital for trauma care, where his injuries were assessed and stabilized. The consulting neurosurgery service evaluated his injuries and decided on a course of conservative treatment. Subsequently, plaintiff was discharged and transferred to Johnson’s hospital client for acute inpatient rehabilitation over the course of several weeks.  Plaintiff alleges that, during this time period, he developed numbness, tingling, an inability to urinate, and other signs and symptoms of spinal cord injury.  Plaintiff claimed both hospitals and their respective staffs were negligent by failing to diagnose spinal cord compression and the need for immediate surgery.  As a result of this allegedly delayed surgery, plaintiff asserted that he suffered a major spinal cord injury resulting in the inability to urinate absent a catheter, sexual dysfunction, and decreased range of motion and pain in his upper extremities. After more than 20 depositions, including plaintiff’s experts in neurosurgery, physical medicine and rehabilitation, Johnson moved for summary judgment based on the argument that plaintiff failed to offer any testimony that the earlier diagnosis of spinal cord injury by the hospital providers would have made any difference in the patient’s ultimate outcome.  The trial court granted the motion, holding that plaintiff failed to meet his proximate cause burden in a manner to allow the case to go to a jury.   (No. 18 L 1294, Judge William Cerne, Circuit Court of DuPage County).

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