Jury Awards $14M For Teen's Fatally Delayed Treatment

Earlier this month, a Chicago jury awarded $14 million to the family of a teenager who passed away after seeking treatment at an Advocate Health and Hospitals Corporation’s clinic. The verdict, rendered nearly seven years after his death, shines a light on the importance of prompt diagnosis and treatment in hospital settings.

Young man coughing in doctor's office

ByAnjelica Cappellino, J.D.

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Published on January 26, 2024

Young man coughing in doctor's office

What Happened?

On December 12, 2016, 19-year-old Stephen Walsh sought treatment at an Advocate Health clinic in Hometown, Illinois, after suffering from a cough and fatigue for nearly two weeks. The clinic ordered a chest X-ray at a hospital operated by the system, Advocate Medical Group Christ Family Practice. The chest X-ray was scheduled for December 17th. Stephen’s condition worsened as the days went by. On the date of the X-ray, Walsh’s mother, Susan Walsh, called the clinic and advised that Stephen was experiencing edema in his legs. She requested that a doctor examine him before the X-ray, but staff at the clinic stated that an examination would not be necessary. The Walshs were instructed that a doctor would call them back if there was anything unusual found from the scan.

After Stephen’s symptoms continued to worsen, he visited the clinic again on December 19th, during which time he was seen by two doctors, Alon Bloom and Lovella Kanu, who were named defendants in the subsequent lawsuit. According to the suit, neither doctor documented the medical treatment or care that they provided to Stephen that day, and he was not hospitalized “despite desperately needing to be.” On December 20, 2016, Stephen Walsh died from myocarditis – an inflammation of the heart muscles, which, if properly diagnosed, could have been effectively treated and resolved.

The Trial and Verdict

Stephen’s parents, Susan and Daniel Walsh, and his sister, Jessica Walsh, filed a lawsuit against Advocate Health and Hospital Corporation as well as the clinic’s doctors, for failing to treat Stephen (Walsh, et al. v. Advocate Health and Hospitals Corporation et al., 2023L002995). Represented by Robert Baizer, from the law firm Coplan Crane, the Walshs asserted that the symptoms and abnormal vital signs exhibited by Stephen during his clinic visits demonstrated that he was critically ill and “was in need of hospitalization to receive an immediate escalation of care.”

The 12-person Cook County jury found the hospital system liable for Stephen’s death and awarded a $14 million verdict to be split between his parents and sister. Baizer, the lead trial attorney on the case, issued a statement on the verdict: "No family should have to endure the pain and suffering that Stephen's loved ones have…While this result can never fully heal the wounds left by this tragic loss, we hope it brings some measure of closure for a family that has been fighting for justice the last seven years."

About the author

Anjelica Cappellino, J.D.

Anjelica Cappellino, J.D.

Anjelica Cappellino, Esq., a New York Law School alumna and psychology graduate from St. John’s University, is an accomplished attorney at Meringolo & Associates, P.C. She specializes in federal criminal defense and civil litigation, with significant experience in high-profile cases across New York’s Southern and Eastern Districts. Her notable work includes involvement in complex cases such as United States v. Joseph Merlino, related to racketeering, and U.S. v. Jimmy Cournoyer, concerning drug trafficking and criminal enterprise.

Ms. Cappellino has effectively represented clients in sentencing preparations, often achieving reduced sentences. She has also actively participated in federal civil litigation, showcasing her diverse legal skill set. Her co-authored article in the Albany Law Review on the Federal Sentencing Guidelines underscores her deep understanding of federal sentencing and its legal nuances. Cappellino's expertise in both trial and litigation marks her as a proficient attorney in federal criminal and civil law.