Not Guilty After Fatal Overdose After Being Released From Hospital

Court of Cook County, Illinois
Counsel: Anne Scrivner Kuban and Christopher Reeder
Demand $5,000,000
Asked: $1,000,000
Outcome: Not Guilty

On January 18, 2014, a 17 year old teenager (hereinafter referred to as the decedent) was dropped off in front of the emergency room while suffering from a heroin overdose. Medical personnel including defendant emergency room physician resuscitated her from the nearly fatal overdose, stabilized her condition, and monitored her for 18 hours before medically clearing her at 11:00 PM that night. The decedent was also observed and evaluated by a hospital social worker and a SASS evaluator (mental health crisis evaluator for minors under partnership with Illinois DCFS, DHS, and HFS). The decedent repeatedly denied that the overdose was intentional and told multiple care providers that the overdose was accidental. The decedent’s mother, Plaintiff, asked the defendant emergency room physicians to admit the decedent to the hospital but was told that the decedent did not meet medical and/or psychiatric criteria for admission. The decedent was discharged from the hospital at approximately 10:30AM on January 19th into the care of Plaintiff. Plaintiff signed off on the discharge and treatment plan

Later that day, the decedent stole the family’s gaming system and snuck out of the home while Plaintiff and her relatives were asleep. The decedent was subsequently found dead in a Bridgeview motel room the following day on January 20th. An autopsy revealed that the decedent’s death was due to a heroin overdose. Plaintiff contended that the defendants improperly discharged the decedent from the hospital thereby causing and contributing to her death. The defendants contended that the decedent was properly evaluated, the mental health specialists conferred with their supervisors including a psychiatrist to rule out any suicidal or homicidal ideation and therefore complied with the standard of care. Furthermore, Plaintiff was provided with multiple resources for drug rehabilitation facilities and services. Prior to the presentation to the hospital in January 2014, the decedent had participated in a residential wilderness program where she successfully achieved sobriety and was starting to flourish. The program typically lasted a minimum of 3-6 months with intensive follow-up care but Plaintiff removed the decedent from the program against medical advice after 32 days because Plaintiff missed the decedent too much. The jury deliberated less than 1 hour.