Improper Pacemaker Insertion Leads to Woman’s Death, Husband Settles Lawsuit
Hermelinda Toro, 55, suffered various cardio-pulmonary arrests which resulted in a brain injury and her death in 2013. A lawsuit was subsequently filed by her husband claiming the patient’s artery was cut during her pacemaker surgery at Stroger Hospital in Chicago and Cook County officials recently asked for authorization to settle for nearly $6.5 million.
According to the complaint, from May 10 to June 2, 2013, Toro had been admitted, treated and released from Stroger Hospital in Chicago. After she was fitted with her pacemaker on May 10, however, she experienced complications. The patient was readmitted on June 6, 2013, suffered cardiac arrest, developed sepsis, and passed away just a day later.
The physician, Toro’s attorneys claimed, was negligent in cutting her artery as the pacemaker was being inserted and didn’t realize the bleed had occurred until it was too late. The doctor also had performance issues, it was discovered, and had been placed on probation, including entering the woman’s medical chart “on a number of occasions” after she died. Whether changes had been made to her records couldn’t be proven.
Toro’s husband, the plaintiff, cited his wife’s pain and suffering, disability, disfigurement, and death in the court filing and alleged loss of support and consortium for both himself and their four children in addition to funeral expenses. In total, he had sought damages in excess of $50,000, in addition to attorney fees and costs.
The county’s Finance Subcommittee on Litigation agreed to the settlement recommendation in executive session. The decision isn’t set to be finalized until September at the earliest. Toro’s estate was represented by Kathryn Conway of Power, Rogers and Smith, where Board of Review Commissioner Larry Rogers Jr. is a partner.
Cook County Commissioner Peter Silverstri, chairman of the Finance Subcommittee on Litigation, sent a letter to Rogers asking that he implement a firewall at his firm, so he doesn’t profit from lawsuits against the county. An ordinance disables officials from having “an economic interest in the representation of any person in any judicial or quasi-judicial proceeding before any administrative agency or court in which the county is a party and that person’s interest is directly adverse to that of the county,” according to the letter, which added the wall “should establish that you will not be involved in any matters against the county.” Silvestri also stated, “information provided to the subcommittee suggests that you worked on the Toro case in its early stages but have not been involved on a day-to-day basis for some period of time.”
Silvestri said he sent the letter after a few of the other commissioners brought the matter to his attention. Rogers told Silvestri his work as an attorney is independent of his work as a Board of Review Commissioner and he plays “no role in the management of county business beyond hearing property valuation appeals.” Rogers said he is “not involved” in the Toro matter, has voluntarily agreed to be screened regarding anything he is involved with against the county and will not receive any fees earned on any matters from which he’s been screened. Toro’s husband’s suit will stand before the subcommittee in September.