Segal McCambridge Achieves Two Wrongful Death Defense Verdicts In One Week


June 28, 2012

Two unrelated cases, in different areas of the law, both involving charges of wrongful death, recently ended within days of each other with the same result: the jury siding completely with the defense. In both cases, the Segal McCambridge team led its clients through to victory.

The first of the two cases to reach verdict involved issues of professional liability in the medical malpractice area. A 76-year-old patient underwent hip revision surgery (replacement of a previously installed artificial hip) at Chicago's Weiss Memorial Hospital. The patient passed away approximately 48 hours after the surgery was complete. His family brought suit against the Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) and the hospital, on the theory that the CRNA was an apparent agent of the hospital. The plaintiffs sought $10.6M.

Trial began June 8, 2012, in the courtroom of Judge Thomas Hogan, and concluded June 20. Segal McCambridge represented Weiss Memorial Hospital. The jury delivered a defense verdict after deliberating for less than two hours.

The second case involved products liability issues in the death of a young man who died retrieving golf balls from a water hazard. He worked for a company that removes golf balls from water hazards and re-sells them as used equipment. To retrieve the balls, he used a mechanical breathing device, called a "hookah." Segal McCambridge's client, Gardner Denver, manufactured a compressor that was a component of the device (although almost certainly not an original component).

On a June day in 2009, the young man was found dead in the water. A medical examination concluded that his death was caused by an elevated level of carbon monoxide in his body.

His survivors sued, alleging that the component parts were defective and that each of the three product manufacturers, Gardner Denver and two other companies, had failed to warn. They sought nearly $13M, $6.7M of which represented punitive damages.

But there were other issues with the hookah. It had been heavily used, and parts had worn out and been replaced. As stated before, the Gardner Denver compressor was almost certainly not original. The Honda motor had been replaced shortly before the accident and had been installed improperly. The botched configuration shot exhaust into the compressor.

After a lightning-paced four-and-a-half days of trial in Dallas, the case went to the jury. In their verdict, announced June 25, they found the company's boss, Dickie Seeders of A Plus Golf Ball Retrieval, 77% responsible and the decedent 23% responsible. No fault was assigned to any of the three manufacturers.

Our team for Gardner Denver consisted of attorneys Tim Krippner, John LaBoon, Christina Denmark and J.R. Skrabanek, and paralegal April Mitchell.

"We are extremely pleased that the jury confirmed our view that Gardner Denver bore no responsibility for Mr. Logan's tragic death," says Mr. Krippner. "We wish the best for the Logan family."