Not Guilty For Alleged Failure to Diagnose and Treat HIV

Circuit Court of Cook County Illinois
Counsel: Scott Irvin and David Kalimuthu
Demand: $3.5 million
Asked: $5.3 million
Outcome: Not Guilty as to our Defendant Hematologist/Oncologist

Plaintiff was admitted to the hospital on May 8, 2011, for various symptoms, including fever, repeated falls, foot drop, episodic dysphasia, and pancytopenia. She was diagnosed by a rheumatologist with antiphospholipid antibody syndrome and possible systemic lupus erythematosus after immunologic blood panels. Our defendant hematologist/oncologist was consulted to determine the cause of Plaintiff’s pancytopenia, ruled out several diagnoses, and prescribed immunosuppressive medication consistent with the diagnosis of lupus. On November 10, 2012, Plaintiff was diagnosed with HIV. Plaintiff alleged that the defendants were negligent in failing to consider, test for, diagnose and treat her HIV and that the delay in diagnosis and treatment caused her to develop HIV encephalopathy, permanent incontinence, gait imbalance, loss of executive function, slurred speech, recurrent fevers, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and necrotizing MRSA pneumonia. The defense contended that Plaintiff had both lupus and HIV in May of 2011 but that there was no reason to suspect or test for HIV at that time as Plaintiff was responding to lupus treatment, had no risk factors for HIV, and never presented with opportunistic infections. The defense further argued that Plaintiff was seen by over 100 physicians, including infectious disease specialists, and not one suspected HIV or ordered HIV testing. The defense also contended that Plaintiff contracted MRSA pneumonia due to living in a nursing home and that her cognitive deficits were pre-existing and unrelated to HIV encephalopathy.