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PRESS RELEASE
January 20, 2014
$1.5 Million Settlement Recovered for Patient Who Received a Defective Hip Implant
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Chicago Tribune
June 20, 2012
As Burr Oak settlement payments arrive, old wounds reopen
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Chicago Daily Law Bulletin
December 16, 2011
Hospital settles small intestine case for $15M
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Crain's Chicago Business
November 08, 2010
Ex-local Merrill Lynch brokers seek arbitration over compensation from B of A
Read this story

Chicago Daily Law Bulletin
September 28, 2009 / Volume: 155 Issue: 189
Decision interferes with jury role in punitive damages, trial lawyers say
Read this story

Chicago Tribune
July 23, 2009
Burbank woman sues over husband's lost remains
Body was donated to science, but mix-up sent remains to wrong family
Read this story at chicagotribune.com

Anatomical Gift Association and Midwestern University Medical School Lose Body, Conceal Facts of Loss From Widow and Family
July 21, 2009
On Tuesday, July 21, 2009, attorneys from Leahy & Hoste filed a lawsuit on behalf of Margaret H. Hejna against the Anatomical Gift Association of Illinois and Midwestern University, alleging that these institutions lost the body of Margaret's deceased husband, James J. Hejna, which was donated for purposes of medical study. The suit alleges that the Chicago-based AGA concealed the loss of Mr. Hejna's body through repeated verbal misrepresentations and that MU of Downers Grove lost Mr. Hejna's body and eventually had his body cremated and delivered to an unnamed family. MU has refused to identify the family currently in possession of Mr. Hejna's remains.
Read this story at cnbc.com

Chicago Sun-Times
July 22, 2009
Husband gave body to science, now it's missing
Suit: Widow was to get remains but all she got was runaround
Read this story at suntimes.com

Leahy & Hoste Retained to Represent Families Affected by Burr Oak Cemetery Scandal
July 13, 2009
Attorneys at Leahy & Hoste presently represent a number of families affected by the scandal. Our attorneys are available to respond to inquiries related to the Burr Oak events. Please contact Michael Alkaraki at 312-372-8893. We also represent several families in wrongful burial lawsuits against Homewood Memorial Gardens in Homewood, Illinois.

Chicago Tribune
July 9, 2009
Bodies unearthed at Alsip cemetery
Read this story at chicagotribune.com
Chicago Sun-Times
July 9, 2009
Every family's nightmare: Burr Oak Cemetery graves allegedly stripped for profit
Read this story at suntimes.com

Chicago Daily Law Bulletin
September, 2007
Court leaves $19 million award alone
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Chicago Daily Law Bulletin
August, 2007
Hoste Among Law Bulletin's "40 Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch"
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Largest wrongful death verdict ever affirmed
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin
March 30, 2007
$19 million crash verdict 'not excessive'
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Chicago magazine and Illinois Super Lawyers
February, 2007
Tom Leahy Named Among the Top Five Percent of Lawyers in Illinois
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Chicago Tribune
December 31, 2006
Cemetery lost bodies, suits allege
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Illinois State Bar Association - Law Ed CLE
October 13, 2006
Tom Leahy Speaks at "Trial Practice - A Masters Series Program"
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VerdictSearch
September, 2006
Tom Leahy Featured in the VerdictSearch Top 100
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Chicago Sun Times
May 29, 2006
Mom's casket was exposed, suit says
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Chicago magazine and Illinois Super Lawyers
February, 2006
Tom Leahy Named Among the Top Five Percent of Lawyers in Illinois
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Chicago Sun Times
December 14, 2005 / Front Page
Broken-hearted: Family wins lawsuit claiming transplant patient got damaged heart
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Chicago Tribune
December 15, 2005
Transplant verdict against Loyola Hospital
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Chicago Daily Law Bulletin
December 14, 2005 / Front Page
Jury awards family $ 2.7 million in suit against hospital
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Crain's Chicago Business
February 28, 2005
Illinois' Largest Verdicts and Settlements, 2004
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Chicago Sun Times
February 19, 2004
Jury awards $19.2 million to survivors of man killed in car crash
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Chicago Tribune
February 1, 2002
Jury awards $22.6 million to amputee
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Chicago Tribune
February 20, 2004
Family gets $19 million for death
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PR Newswire
June 16, 2004
$2,000,000 Punitive Damage Award in Slovinski vs. Elliott
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Chicago Daily Law Bulletin
February 19, 2004
Jury Awards $19 Million Verdict for Truck Accident
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Chicago Daily Law Bulletin
January 31, 2002
Legless Taxi Driver Awarded $22 Million on Med-Mal Claim
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Chicago Daily Law Bulletin
November 29, 2000
In Circuit Court
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Chicago Daily Law Bulletin
April 18, 1994
$6 Million Med-Mal Verdict
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National Jury Verdict Review & Analysis
August, 2002
Read this story

Illinois State Bar Journal
September 1, 1998
Devastation in Africa adds to existing burdens
Read this story

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PRESS RELEASE
January 20, 2014

$1.5 Million Settlement Recovered for Patient Who Received a Defective Hip Implant

Chicago, Illinois

A 71 year old woman received a $1,500,000 settlement from an unnamed hip implant manufacturer whose metal hip fractured after 3-1/2 years of use. A lawsuit was filed in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, on behalf of Margaret Spizzirri by her attorneys Tom Leahy and Michael Alkaraki of Leahy & Hoste, Chicago.

Ms. Spizzirri claimed that microfractures on the neck of the femoral head led to fatigue failure and the eventual separation of the head from the shaft of the implant. The manufacturer argued that excessive wear and tear was the cause of the fracture.

For further information please contact Tom Leahy, attorney for the Plaintiff at (312) 372-8893 or

8F3B4E rule
Chicago Tribune
June 20, 2012

As Burr Oak settlement payments arrive, old wounds reopen

By Lolly Bowean, Chicago Tribune reporter

On the day that his settlement check arrived, Charles Lewis paused for a moment and stared at the document.

It had been 25 years since he buried his 2-year-old daughter, Darlene, at Burr Oak Cemetery, in an area reserved for children. And it had been three years of attending meetings and searching for death certificates and public records in an effort to sue the cemetery owners after authorities determined graves had been dug up and plots resold.

His daughter's grave was among those that could not be located, he said. And now, after years of complicated bankruptcy hearings, the case that Lewis and thousands of others filed against the cemetery had been resolved.

Lewis was paid $50.

As Lewis stared at his settlement check, disappointment and anger welled up in his chest, he said. He knew it would be modest, but after attorney's fees and administrative costs, even the $100 promised was cut in half.

"I couldn't believe it," said Lewis, 49, whose father is also buried in the historic cemetery. "It's disgusting. That grave site is my only connection to my (deceased) loved ones. Now it's lost. And I get $50."

It's been three years since authorities learned that four workers at the once-illustrious Burr Oak Cemetery were allegedly digging up graves, dumping the remains in a lot and reselling the plots. In July 2009, the cemetery near Alsip was shut down by the Cook County sheriff's office and the four workers were arrested. Three of those cases remain in court; the alleged ringleader was sentenced last year to 12 years in prison.

After the scandal became public, more than 5,000 people joined class-action lawsuits against the owners of the cemetery. Some hoped that by financially crippling the cemetery, the lawsuits would force a closing. Instead, most of those suits resulted in small payments, about $100 to each family.

This month, the cemetery's bankruptcy case officially closed. As the settlement checks have started to arrive, some families say the payments not only offer little closure, but also have opened up old wounds.

Lorene Franklin's family buried three relatives at Burr Oak, two sisters and a niece, Ruby Jean, who died as an infant. Over the years, when she visited their graves, Franklin said she suspected poor management. But she swallowed her concerns and kept quiet.

After the scandal surfaced, Franklin and her family couldn't locate their niece's burial plot. Besides the digging up of plots, the cemetery's records were so poorly kept that many families were unable to determine where their loved ones were buried.

"We called a lawyer to investigate more," said Franklin, 59, of Englewood. "It wasn't about money. We wanted to know if our loved ones had been moved. We wanted to find out for sure ourselves."

They were never able to locate their niece's grave, Franklin said. They didn't follow the lawsuit closely or monitor the bankruptcy hearings. Franklin said they completed paperwork when they were told to, and a check arrived in the mail earlier this year.

"It's almost an insult," said Loretta Franklin, Lorene Franklin's daughter. "It's like $100 to shut you up and not talk or think about it anymore. We can't have our relatives moved with that. If we wanted to appeal or fight, we'd have to pay a lawyer. It wasn't just unfair to my family, it wasn't fair" to anyone.

The settlement check reminded Lorene Franklin of all the nights she spent sleepless over the possibility that the remains of her relatives were disturbed.

"We paid for our people to be rested," she said, her voice rising with frustration. "I haven't erased them from my mind. I haven't forgotten them. The spotlight is gone. The pressure is gone. But how do you fix this hurt?"

Through Perpetua-Burr Oak Holdings' bankruptcy plan, about $2.3 million was earmarked to pay the cemetery's creditors, which included the thousands of victims who filed suit, according to court records and documents. How court officials, lawyers and activists arrived at the settlement amount for victims is complicated.

According to the cemetery's court-appointed trustee, Patricia Brown Holmes, because there were more than 5,000 litigants, the court decided that sending out modest payments was the fairest way to split the insurance money.

"We didn't have a lot of money," she said. "Nobody is going to be happy. Who wants to know that their loved one's grave was possibly desecrated? But I can guarantee you that not every grave out there was dug up. Most are still there. We decided to settle with everybody."

The victims were divided into three categories, attorneys said. One class of litigants signed documents forfeiting any payment and devoted what would have been their money toward a fund to maintain the cemetery.

The largest class was made up of thousands of litigants who agreed to fill out paperwork, take a $100 payment and walk away. If they wanted to challenge the owners of the cemetery, they would have had to file suit individually, which likely would have been more expensive.

A third group of litigants, about 370 people, were those who could show evidence of significant harm, and they were negotiated with individually, attorneys said. Their individual settlements were kept confidential, but the total payment to that group was about $1.2 million, Holmes said. While the settlements were not evenly split, that averages to about $3,300 per person.

"The compensation is highly inadequate," said Tom Leahy, an attorney who represented 66 clients in a lawsuit that was folded into the bankruptcy settlement. "I can tell you, what happened at Burr Oak was an emotionally traumatic event. My clients are still having a hard time dealing with this."

Leahy said his office decided to forgo charging their clients, each of whom accepted $100 settlements.

"We basically represented our clients pro bono," he said. "The compensation was so inadequate, we felt it would be overreaching on our part to take any money from that."

Many families who accepted the $100 settlement said they spent more than that trying to prove their case. Lewis, of Milwaukee, and his ex-wife, Lisa Keys, said they spent more than $200 obtaining death certificates and public records to prove they had loved ones buried in Burr Oak.

While the Lewis family started as litigants in the group that claimed egregious harm, they were persuaded by their attorney to transfer to the larger class of litigants. When their settlement checks arrived, they were attached to invoices from the family's attorney, claiming half the money. The Lewis family's attorney, David H. Charlip, did not return calls for comment.

"It's just disrespectful and hurtful," Keys said. "This was supposed to help, but it hurt even more. We can't even go visit our daughter. We don't know where she's buried."

Lewis said the scandal has given him nightmares and fears that his family members are no longer at peace.

"I keep thinking, when I go, will this happen to me?" he said. "A grave is supposed to be sacred. That was my baby. When you lay somebody down, you expect them to stay laid down. You expect them to rest, then you can rest."

For some families, the check represented yet another injustice they had to face and, eventually, try to forget.

"That check brought back bad memories," said Florine Brewer, 79, of Riverdale, who buried four family members at Burr Oak but could not locate them after the scandal broke. Brewer said she cashed her $50 check, then tried to tuck the ordeal in the back of her mind.

"What has been done, has been done," she said. "I just take it one day at a time and move on. I thought, with all that stuff carrying on there, and with so many hurt people, more would have come from this."

Over the last three years, burials have resumed at Burr Oak — albeit at a much slower frequency.

The former director of the cemetery, Carolyn Towns, pleaded guilty last year to criminal charges connected to the case and was sentenced to 12 years in prison. Three other former cemetery workers — Maurice Dailey and brothers Keith and Terrence Nicks — await trial and are due in court this month, officials with the Cook County state's attorney's office said.

More than $2 million of insurance money was set aside to revamp the graveyard and clean it up. Some of that funding will also go toward building a monument to honor the dead whose graves were desecrated. The cemetery is now managed by a new staff.

"I tell people it's going to take us a couple of years to get it where it needs to go," said Holmes, the trustee tasked with overseeing the cemetery since September. "It's a big job."

8F3B4E rule
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin
December 16, 2011

Hospital settles small intestine case for $15M.

By Pat Milhizer
Law Bulletin staff writer

A Cook County judge approved a $15 million settlement this week that a hospital agreed to pay to a 6-year-old boy who lost most of his small intestine and part of his colon after his birth, the boy's attorney said.

Tyson McCarney was born in 2005 at Loyola University Medical Center after he was diagnosed with gastroschisis, a congenital birth defect that causes the intestine to protrude through the fetal abdominal wall and float freely in the womb.

According to the boy's lawyer:
  • After McCarney's birth, a pediatric surgeon returned the intestines to the proper spot and decided to delay the surgical closure of the abdomen.
  • The surgeon covered the abdominal defect and went on vacation for about 10 days. No experienced surgeon assessed McCarney during that time.
  • When the surgeon returned from vacation, he closed the abdominal defect but noticed that McCarney appeared to suffer from a "dead bowel."

After additional surgeries, medical staff removed most of McCarney's small intestine and a portion of his colon. The removal left him with a medical condition known as short bowel syndrome.

McCarney underwent several surgeries, including a successful intestine transplant when he was 18 months old.

He requires frequent hospital visits, medical monitoring and many medications. He can eat normally and receives supplemental nutrition with a tube that's inserted into his stomach.

The suit alleges that Loyola physicians and staff performed an experimental and unnecessary surgery on McCarney after his birth and then failed to appropriately monitor him. The father alleged that the surgeon shouldn't have immediately put the small intestine back in its place while McCarney was still attached to the umbilical cord.

As a result of the surgeon's actions, the lawsuit alleges, McCarney's abdomen experienced pressure that reduced blood flow to the abdominal organs and ultimately resulted in the loss of most of his small intestine.

The two sides reached the settlement after voluntary mediation sessions with Geoffrey L. Gifford of Pavalon & Gifford.

Because Loyola is self-insured, it will pay the entire settlement.

Peter D. Hoste and Tom Leahy of Leahy & Hoste represented McCarney.

Hoste commended Loyola and its attorneys for "recognizing the significance" of McCarney's claim and agreeing to settle. He also said McCarney probably would have died if he didn't undergo an intestine transplant, but McCarney still faces the possibility of complications from the transplant and medication side effects in the future.

"It's a substantial settlement which I think reflects the difficulties he's faced over the last 6 ˝ years," Hoste said. "And the money from the settlement will serve to help him enjoy his life going forward, which he's really been unable to do."

Hoste said the hospital denied negligence and alleged that McCarney's intestine loss resulted from his congenital birth defect.

The hospital was represented by Gregory E. Schiller, Andrew J. Kovarik and Genevieve M. LeFevour of Johnson & Bell Ltd. Schiller couldn't be reached for comment.

Circuit Judge Dennis J. Burke approved the settlement on Monday.

The case is Bradley A. Beach, etc. v. Loyola University Medical Center, et al. No. 08 L 4613.

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Crain's Chicago Business
November 08, 2010

Ex-local Merrill Lynch brokers seek arbitration over compensation from B of A

By Lynne Marek

(Crain's) — Four former Merrill Lynch brokers in Chicago are pressing their ex-employer, now owned by Bank of America Corp., to pay about $3 million in compensation they argue is owed to them.

The brokers filed in Chicago for arbitration of their dispute, says Tom Leahy, an attorney at Chicago law firm Leahy & Hoste, which is representing the brokers.

The brokers left Bank of America in November 2008 over concerns that the terms of their jobs would change after the September 2008 announcement that Bank of America would acquire Merrill, he says.

Bank of America asked Merrill brokers to agree to accept personal loans under a program that would write off the IOUs within seven years if a broker stayed with the company.

But the agreement also required brokers to waive their right to get deferred compensation even if they left the company for “good reason,” Mr. Leahy said. If the brokers didn't sign up for the loans, they would be cut off from receiving coveted accounts redistributed when other brokers left the company, he says.

“Our people said ‘it looks bad and it smells bad,' ” Mr. Leahy said. The brokers declined to comment.

A Bank of America spokesman declined to comment on the case.

When the Chicago brokers left Bank of America, without signing up for the loan program, they demanded the bank follow through on Merrill promises to pay them deferred compensation earned under bonus programs.

The bank contended the brokers forfeited the deferred compensation because they didn't leave the company for “good reason,” according to Mr. Leahy.

The brokers countered that the change of control qualified as a “good reason,” Mr. Leahy said. In addition, their decision not to sign onto the loan program would have kept them from receiving the redistributed accounts, creating another “good reason” to exit, he said.

Two brokers who took the bank to arbitration on a similar issue in Florida won a $1.17-million award last month.

The Bank of America spokesman noted that the Florida arbitration panel didn't give those brokers as much money as they demanded and denied a request for punitive damages and payment of the brokers' attorney fees.

The Chicago cases are expected to be taken up as early as next month, Mr. Leahy said.


8F3B4E rule
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin
September 28, 2009 Volume: 155 Issue: 189

Decision interferes with jury role in punitive damages, trial lawyers say

By Bethany Krajelis
Law Bulletin staff writer

SPRINGFIELD – An individual's right to have a jury decide damages is at risk if the Illinois Supreme Court does not reverse an appellate court ruling that sharply reduced a punitive damages award, the state's trial lawyers argue.

In a friend of the court brief, the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association has urged the justices to send the state's reviewing courts a clear message that it is not their place to disturb jury awards.

The group has joined the plaintiff in Jerry Slovinski v. James Elliott in asking the court to reinstate the jury's $2 million award for punitive damages.

"If allowed to stand, the holding ... threatens to reverse the value we place on permitting a jury of ordinary citizens to collectively determine that which will fairly compensate, that which will fairly punish and that which will adequately deter future harm," the trial lawyers' brief contends.

Tom Leahy, the attorney who recently represented Slovinski in arguments before the justices, said that the lower courts abused their discretion by reducing the jury's award in the defamation case.

A Cook County jury awarded his client $2 million in punitive damages and $81,600 in compensatory damages. The trial judge reduced the punitives award to $1 million and the 5th District Appellate Court further reduced it to $81,600, equal to the compensatory damages.

ITLA's brief asserts that while Supreme Court Rule 366 allows reviewing courts to order the entry of a remittitur, the rule is strict in saying that they should enter only an order "that ought to have been given or made" in the trial court.

In this case, the appeals panel did not analyze the trial court's reduction for an abuse of discretion before it made a reduction of its own, the brief contends.

Leahy said that, before a trial court replaces a jury verdict, it must find "that the verdict was a result of passion, prejudice, bias or corruption," a standard that was adopted in Deal v. Byford, 127 Ill. 2d 192, 204, 537 N.E.2d 267, 272 (1989).

Instead, Leahy and ITLA contend, the trial court improperly relied on Brown V. Farkas, 158 Ill.App.3d 772, 511 N.E. 2d 1143 (1st Dist. 1986).

The appeals court in Brown reduced the punitive damages award by nearly $1 million, which was on top of the trial court's $1 million reduction.

"There can be no doubt that with regard to an appellate court's appropriate use of the power of remittitur, the Brown case and the present case below are a clear departure from the overwhelming weight of Illinois jurisprudence," the trial lawyers' brief asserts.

The brief continued that "in neither the Brown opinion nor in the present order below did the appellate court elaborate upon its reasoning for reducing the punitive damages award at all, not to mention to the 1:1 ratio" between punitive and compensatory damages, which was the result in both cases.

The trial lawyers argue that the justices' decision in this case also should overrule Brown.

"The one-to-one ratio of compensatory to punitive damages is now precedent," Leahy told the justices in oral argument earlier this month. "Punitive damages in defamation cases are now capped at compensatory damages."

But Jeffrey Patrick Guzak, who represented defendant in the case, told the justices that that lower courts did not abuse their discretion in reducing the jury award.

Guzak argued that the trial judge properly looked to other cases, such as Brown, for guidance in making the reduction. And while the court in Brown did not explain its reasoning for reducing the award, Guzak said, "it is still good law."

"By far, this is the most on-point case we find," Guzak said of Brown, adding that it did not explicitly establish a one-to-ratio for punitive and compensatory damages.

While Brown may not have mandated a one-to-one ratio, Leahy told the justices, "I know now that Slovinski does."

"In the future, attorneys aren't going to be citing Brown, they're going to be citing Slovinski below if this decision is allowed to stand," Leahy told the justices.

Although Guzak urged the justices to look to Brown for guidance, Leahy and ITLA contend there are distinguishing factors between Brown and Slovinski.

Brown dealt with a defamation claim stemming from the filing of a false report of child abuse, which is a criminal offense.

Slovinski also stemmed from a defamation claim, but one that did not involve a criminal offense.

Slovinski, a former CFO of a telecommunications company, accused Elliott, the former CEO, of telling some investors and employees of a telephone service provider that Slovinski was not doing his job.

Slovinski contends he had done his job, which including preparing financial statements for a meeting between Elliott and a telephone services provider to which the company owed money.

Slovinski asserted that Elliott had made the defamatory statements in an attempt to buy more time to pay the debt.

The Brown case was heard before a bench trial, according to the trial lawyers. The judge made the determination of damages in that case, unlike the jury did in Slovinski.

"In that sense, the job of the judge in Brown was just as difficult as that of the jury in the present case," the ITLA brief argues. "Therefore, the appellate court in Brown was no more entitled to reject the damage determination of a fellow judge than this panel was to reject the work of the individuals who comprised the jury."

But ITLA contends that "the distinction between the bench trial in Brown and the jury trial here calls greater attention to both the error of the appellate court in this case and the slippery slope caused by the erroneous decision in Brown."

The brief urges the justices to reverse the appellate court in order to uphold the system that prevents a jury award from being overturned unless it's the product of passion or prejudice.

"Any other system would require appellate and Supreme Court justices to weigh evidence and second-guess the jury, despite having an incomplete, second-hand view of the damages evidence presented to the jury," the trial lawyers contend.

David M. Hundley wrote the brief on behalf of ITLA.

The case is Jerry Slovinski v. James Elliott, No. 107146.


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Chicago Daily Law Bulletin
September 26, 2007 Volume: 153 Issue: 189

Court leaves $19 million award alone

By Stephanie Potter
Law Bulletin staff writer

The Illinois Supreme Court on Wednesday declined to review 497 cases, including a $19.2 million award to the family of a man killed in a 1999 collision with two tractor-trailer trucks.

William J. Tengler, a 28 year-old tool-and-die maker, was a passenger in a car waiting to make a left turn off of Route 20 near the junction with Union Road near Marengo. A truck driver, David Villarreal, rear-ended Tengler's vehicle, pushing it into the path of another semi.

Evidence presented at trial showed that Villarreal had cocaine and marijuana in his system, according to the appellate court's unpublished order in the case. Billie Jo Tengler, etc. v. Preferred Unlimited Inc., et al., No. 1-04-2056.

The verdict at a trial before Cook County Circuit Judge Carol Pearce McCarthy went against Villarreal and the company he drove for, Preferred Unlimited Inc. In their petition for leave to appeal, the defendants argued that the damage award was excessive.

In all, the high court denied 455 petitions for leave to appeal outright. The court dismissed one appeal and issued supervisory orders in 41 cases.

In one of those supervisory orders, the high court ordered the 1st District Appellate Court to consider a doctor's appeal of $5.45 million award for the delayed diagnosis of breast cancer. According to the Cook County Jury Verdict Reporter, the verdict was the highest reported among breast-cancer related suits where the patient survived.

In 2005, a Cook County jury awarded Marsha Dienstag the $5.95 million in her suit against Dr. Lawrence Margolies. Dienstag had alleged that Margolies failed to refer her to a surgeon for a biopsy even after two mammograms showed signs of cancer.

One of Dienstag's attorneys, David A. Novoselsky, said the 1st District dismissed Margolies' appeal in December 2006 because of a procedural issue.

The trial court had ordered a $500,000 remittitur of the verdict, and Margolies apparently filed a notice of appeal before Dienstag accepted the remittitur. Novoselksy said he argued the notice was premature and the appeals court agreed, dismissing the appeal. Now, under the Supreme Court's order, the case will be heard on its merits.

The high court also declined to hear an appeal involving a negligent spoliation of evidence claim. Robert Baldwin had brought suit against Alexian Brothers Medical Center and Heidi Meador, claiming that he reinjured his right rotator cuff while working with Meador, a physical therapist at the hospital.

While a Cook County jury found against Baldwin on his medical malpractice claim, it awarded Baldwin $490,000 on his claim against the hospital for negligent spoliation of evidence. The hospital apparently did not produce the ''flow sheet,'' which showed exercises Baldwin did during the physical therapy session at issue.

In its unpublished ruling affirming the jury's verdict, the 1st District found the jury could have doubted Baldwin, but also believed the flow sheet could have bolstered his case. Robert Baldwin v. Alexian Brothers Medical Center, et al., 1-06-0725.

The hospital had argued in its petition for leave to appeal that the spoliation count unfairly gave Baldwin two chances to collect on his claim.

The high court also declined to hear:

  • An appeal from the parents of a youth killed in a 1996 rollover accident. The 1st District had ruled in March that a trial judge erred by ''stacking'' automobile insurance policies. The court found the amount of underinsured motorist coverage should have been determined on a per-policy basis before the policies were stacked.

Jerry W. Jones, et al. v. Country Mutual Insurance Co., No. 1-05-1417.

  • An appeal from Farmers Automobile Insurance Association in a class-action suit brought by a former claims adjustor, Christopher M. Loesche over overtime pay. The insurer was seeking a ruling on whether a 52-member class satisfied the numerosity requirement of Illinois' class-action law./font>

Christopher M. Loesche v. Farmers Automobile Insurance Association, d/b/a Pekin Insurance Company, 5-05-0481.

  • An appeal from the law firm of Judge & James Ltd., now known as Judge, James & Kujawa LLC in a legal malpractice suit brought by Universal Underwriters Insurance Co. In March, the 1st District reversed a grant of summary judgment to Jay S. Judge and the firm. The insurer argues the law firm mishandled an underinsured motorist claim that led to a $3 million settlement.

Universal Underwriters Insurance Co. v. Judge & James Ltd. and Jay S. Judge, No. 1-05-4138.

  • An appeal from the mother of a abused baby. Rachel Nelson, the boy's mother, brought suit against Saints Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center, arguing that emergency room staff failed to detect and report healed rib fractures that signaled child abuse. The infant, Raynoldo Varela, suffered serious injuries, including a brain bleed, weeks later at the hands of his father weeks later. The 1st District in October affirmed a trial judge's grant of summary judgment to the hospital, finding the hospital had no duty to report suspected child abuse.

Varela v. St. Elizabeth's Hospital of Chicago, No. 1-05-3718.


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Largest wrongful death verdict ever affirmed
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin
March 30, 2007

$19 million crash verdict 'not excessive'

By Stephanie Potter
Law Bulletin staff writer

The 1st District Appellate Court on Friday affirmed a $19.2 million award to the family of a man killed in 1999 when two tractor-trailer trucks struck his car.

The size of the Cook County jury's verdict in favor of the family of William J. Tengler was at issue due in part to a recent ruling in which the 1st District court ordered a trial judge to slash a $25 million loss of society award after finding that it was excessive. Mikolajczyk v. Ford Motor Co., 369 Ill.App.3d 78, 106 (2006).

The Illinois Supreme Court earlier this week ordered the appeals court to vacate and reconsider its ruling in Mikolajczyk due to a different issue.

In this case, Tengler's widow, Billie Jo, was awarded $18.2 million for the wrongful-death count in her lawsuit. She also was awarded $1 million for a survival count alleging that her husband suffered prior to his death.

The verdict at a trial before Cook County Circuit Judge Carol Pearce McCarthy went against truck driver David Villarreal and the company he drove for, Preferred Unlimited Inc.

Writing for the court in its unpublished decision Friday, Justice Rodolfo Garcia distinguished Tengler's case from Mikolajczyk. He wrote that the $18.2 million award to Tengler's family covered both economic and non-economic damages, while the award in the Mikolajczyk concerned only non-economic damages.

Evidence at trial indicated that Tengler, a tool-and-dye maker, would have earned more than $1 million had he worked until he was 65. But neither side had requested that an itemized verdict form be given to the jury, so specific amounts were not awarded for economic losses and for non-economic damages, such as loss of society, the opinion said.

Garcia wrote that while the court therefore was unable to examine awards for economic and non-economic damages individually, the panel still was able to review the total award to determine ''if it is so large that it shocks the judicial conscience.'' Richardson v. Chapman, 175 Ill.2d 98, 113 (1997).

The court found that the damage award was not excessive.

''In this case, although the damage award was large, we cannot say that it resulted from passion or prejudice, or that it had no reasonable relationship to the loss suffered,'' Garcia wrote, citing Snelson v. Kamm, 204 Ill.2d 1, 37 (2003). ''The record shows that Tengler's death was a devastating event for his family and that he was a devoted husband and father to two young children."

Tengler, 28, was a passenger in a car waiting to make a left turn off Route 20 near the junction with Union Road near Marengo. Villarreal testified that he didn't see the car until ''he was right on top of it because the sun obstructed his view,'' the opinion said. Evidence presented at trial showed that Villarreal had cocaine and marijuana in his system.

Villarreal rear-ended the car, pushing it into the path of another semi, which was hauling powdered cement.

The driver of that truck, Zarko Trisic, and the company he drove for, Kazanova Cartage, also were named in Tengler's suit. Kazanova filed a counterclaim for contribution against Villarreal and Preferred that was tried at the same time as Tengler's claims. The jury found that Kazanova and Trisic were not at fault.

Also at issue on appeal was Preferred's contention that McCarthy erred in allowing evidence concerning Villarreal's drug use. An expert for Kazanova, Dr. Robert Barkin, testified that Villarreal was impaired at the time of the accident, and that the impairment would have affected his decision-making skills.

Preferred argued that the drug use evidence was not relevant because it had already admitted liability. But McCarthy found that Villarreal's impairment was relevant to the counterclaim.

The appeals court agreed.

''In this case, although we recognize that the evidence of Villarreal's drug use was prejudicial, we find no evidence in the record to support the defendants' argument that it was not relevant to Kazanova's counterclaim for contribution,'' Garcia wrote. ''The trial court understood the nature of the contribution claim and found that this evidence was material to that claim."

The appeals court also rejected the defendants' argument that Tengler could not support her claim that her husband endured pain and suffering before he died.

Justices Margaret Stanton McBride and Robert Cahill concurred in the decision.

Tom Leahy, one of the attorneys for the Tengler family, said he was pleased that the court, while distinguishing the case from Mikolajczyk, directly addressed the issue of whether the verdict was excessive.

"It took a long, long time, but I'm hopeful we're close to the end of the road on this case," Leahy said.

Leahy's partner, Peter D. Hoste, and Michael W. Rathsack also represented the Tengler family.

The appeals court's 23-page decision was unpublished in accordance with Illinois Supreme Court Rule 23. Rathsack said he may request publication of the ruling.

The defendants were represented on appeal by Michael A. Pollard of Baker & McKenzie LLP. Pollard said his clients were assessing their options in terms of an appeal.

Billie Jo Tengler, etc. v. Prefered Unlimited Inc., et al., No. 1-04-2056.


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Hoste Among Law Bulletin's "40 Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch"

August, 2007

Leahy & Hoste partner Peter Hoste was recently named to the Law Bulletin Publishing Company's list of "40 Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch," which hailed him as "one of the best personal-injury and medical-malpractice specialists in the city" and praised his work on behalf of a 50-year-old electrician who died of a heart attack following elective shoulder surgery and a single mother who died of a pulmonary embolism that a doctor misdiagnosed as sepsis.

The annual list honors 40 Illinois attorneys who display "intelligence, passion and a track record of success, a desire to help the community and willingness to work hard."

Peter Flowers, with the Geneva-based firm of Foote, Meters, Lielke & Flowers, LLC, said, "I personally have observed Pete interacting with his clients. His compassion and his ability to communicate complicated situations are unique qualities that put Pete in a category of his own. No doubt, these qualities also make him quite successful in front of juries."

Bradley Nahrstadt, with Chicago's Williams Montgomery & John, Ltd., complimented Mr. Hoste's "winning combination of intelligence, integrity and charm." Andrew Kopon Jr. with the Chicago firm of Cremer, Kopon, Shaugnessy & Spina LLC said of Mr. Hoste, "Peter is a hard-working and talented trial lawyer. His demeanor is constantly professional ... He is ethical, and represents his clients in an exemplary fashion without sacrificing professional civility toward opposing counsel."

The profile also highlighted Mr. Hoste's commitment to his industry, including his appointment to the Board of Managers and service on the Medical Negligence Committee, Young Lawyers Committee and Membership Committee for the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association.

Please click here to view Mr. Hoste's profile (PDF file) in the Law Bulletin Publishing Company's "40 Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch."



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Chicago magazine and Illinois Super Lawyers
February, 2007

Tom Leahy Named Among the Top Five Percent of Lawyers in Illinois

Five Percent of Illinois Attorneys Named Super Lawyers®

Tom Leahy has been named as one of Illinois' Super Lawyers in the area of Personal Injury law in general and Medical Malpractice in particular. Super Lawyers names Illinois' top lawyers as chosen by their peers and through the independent research of Law & Politics. The list of 2006 Illinois Super Lawyers is based on surveys of more than 47,000 lawyers across the state. The goal was to select as Super Lawyers the top 5 percent of Illinois attorneys in more than 50 practice areas. The list of Illinois Super Lawyers is published annually in the February issues of Chicago magazine and Illinois Super Lawyers, which has been mailed to every attorney in the state.

SOURCE: Law & Politics
Web Site: www.superlawyers.com
www.lawandpolitics.com
Key Professional Media, Inc. © 2007 All rights reserved.


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Chicago Tribune
December 31, 2006

Cemetery lost bodies, suits allege
Survivors also claim graves are poorly kept at Homewood facility


By Charles Sheehan, Tribune staff reporter. Freelance reporter Wendy Normandy contributed to this report.

A Homewood cemetery has lost track of at least five bodies and is in dire condition, according to lawsuits filed on behalf of surviving family members.

The lawsuits refer to the so-called pauper's section of Homewood Memorial Gardens, which handles burials of unclaimed bodies or those from families unable to pay for burials. The cemetery has contracted with Cook County to handle the burials.

The suits claim family members suffered emotional distress because the owner has not kept records of where bodies are buried, as required by a contract with the county. Poor upkeep, including exposed caskets with protruding body bags that had been disturbed by animals, also is alleged.

Attorneys subpoenaed records from Cook County to determine how many bodies have been taken from the county medical examiner's office to Homewood Memorial Gardens. A class-action lawsuit may be filed, said Tom Leahy of the Leahy & Hoste law firm in Chicago.

Cemetery Manager Sharon Vaughn did not return phone calls from the Chicago Tribune on Saturday, and a reporter was asked to leave the cemetery grounds.

A message left on a voice mail listed for the owner of the cemetery was not immediately returned.

According to a contract between the county and the cemetery that was furnished by Leahy, the cemetery must keep written documentation about each body's exact location and provide it to the medical examiner.

The same rules apply for unclaimed bodies and those from families unable to pay, Leahy said.

"There are potentially dozens of bodies that are there in unmarked graves and untraceable at this point," Leahy said. "We are speaking with people who have been unable to find the remains of their loved ones."

Sandra Cramer of Chicago Heights, one of the plaintiffs, is looking for her uncle, Russell Stevens.

Stevens became estranged from the family around 1990, and though she was close to him, Cramer said she did not reach out to him again out of respect for her mother.

Cramer's mother died in 1999 and she began looking for her uncle.

She learned that a Chicago nursing home notified another uncle in 1991 that Stevens had died, but that the uncle told no one he had gotten notification, Cramer said.

Cramer was able to trace her uncle's path to the pauper's grave at Homewood cemetery in 2001, but cemetery officials would say only that he was somewhere in the pauper's field, she said.

"The message that I got was that this was a free burial and [they] don't care," Cramer said. "The whole thing made me sick to my stomach."

There is an empty grave in a family plot in Acacia Park Cemetery and Mausoleum in Chicago where Cramer and other relatives had hoped Stevens someday would be buried.

"That haunts me," she said. "My uncle is in what looks more like a quarry than a grave and he should be with his family in our plot."

A similar lawsuit was filed earlier this year against the cemetery after Sidney Clark said he could not find his mother's grave.

Cramer contacted an attorney earlier this year when she read about Clark's lawsuit in her local newspaper.

"I was heartbroken, but I had given up until I read that story and I realized I was treated the exact same way," Cramer said. "I began to wonder how many people have gone through the same thing."

There were also wooden caskets emerging from the earth and it appeared animals had gained access to some of them, according to the lawsuit filed by Sidney Clark.

Body bags protruded from some caskets that emitted foul odors, according to the earlier lawsuit and the five lawsuits filed Friday in the Circuit Court of Cook County.

Leahy said he believes that there are many more.

"These people have been in despair for months ... years because they have never been able to identify where their loved ones are," Leahy said.

"We believe there are at minimum dozens of families if not hundreds. We are just waiting for information from the county."

The information requested in the subpoena is expected as early as January, Leahy said.

The deaths listed in the five lawsuits filed Friday occurred between 1988 and 1991, the year Stevens died in his 70s.

"All I want is to return my uncle to where he belongs," Cramer said.


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Illinois State Bar Association - Law Ed CLE
October 13, 2006

Tom Leahy Presents at "Trial Practice - A Masters Series Program"

Tom Leahy served as a featured speaker at a recent Masters Series Program presented by the Illinois State Bar Association. His presentation on Cross Examination was one of the many highlights of this Law Ed Center for CLE event.


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VerdictSearch
September, 2006

Tom Leahy Featured in the VerdictSearch Top 100

Tom Leahy was recently featured in VerdictSearch Top 100 of 2005, their annual survey of the top 100 verdicts and 100 noteworthy defense victories nationwide.


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Chicago Sun Times
May 29, 2006

Mom's casket was exposed, suit says
By Steve Patterson, Staff Reporter

It was Mother's Day last year when Sidney Clark went to visit his mother's grave in the south suburbs.

What he found were the edges of a wooden casket poking out through a shallow grave — and signs that animals had dug into the casket, exposing a stench and making a body bag visible inside.

In a lawsuit recently filed in Cook County Circuit Court, Clark is demanding Homewood Memorial Gardens compensate him for the trauma he endured that day.

"A cemetery is supposed to be a final resting place," said his Chicago attorney, Tom Leahy. "This is more like a field of desecration."

Clark said a recent trip to the cemetery, on Ridge Road east of Halsted, only compounded his anguish. He said he couldn't even find his mother's grave, due to mounds of dirt being shifted and leveled around that area of the cemetery.

"I want to know where my mother is," he said, breaking down. "I hate this place. I just want to find her and get her out of here."

The cemetery's owner, Tom Flynn, and its superintendent, Rudy Casillas, insist grounds improvements will be complete later this summer — and then Berdine Clark's grave and the other unmarked, welfare grave sites will be easier to locate than the general description Clark was recently given.

And Flynn says vandalism was at the root of what Sidney Clark saw at the cemetery last year.

"It was on a slope, after some rain, and somebody pulled dirt away from it and uncovered it," Flynn said.

But even on the recent day Clark visited the cemetery, the Sun-Times observed a concrete vault within a pile of dirt near Berdine Clark's grave site. Casillas used a backhoe to cover it before Clark arrived with his attorney.

'Afraid I'll never find her'
Casillas provided Clark with a general idea of where his mother is buried, promising a more exact spotting once landscaping is done.

But he also called Clark's claims that his mother's grave was opened "a load of crap," saying Clark's mother's grave isn't near where "rain and erosion" left some graves vulnerable to animals or vandals.

State law says welfare burials only have to be 18 inches deep, unlike the standard six feet.

Clark said he doesn't care what caused the disturbing things he saw, but he wants his mother out.

"This just isn't right," he said. "Now, I'm afraid I'll never find her."


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Chicago magazine and Illinois Super Lawyers
February, 2006

Tom Leahy Named Among the Top Five Percent of Lawyers in Illinois

Five Percent of Illinois Attorneys Named Super Lawyers®

Tom Leahy has been named as one of Illinois' Super Lawyers in the area of Personal Injury law in general and Medical Malpractice in particular. Super Lawyers names Illinois' top lawyers as chosen by their peers and through the independent research of Law & Politics. The list of 2006 Illinois Super Lawyers is based on surveys of more than 47,000 lawyers across the state. The goal was to select as Super Lawyers the top 5 percent of Illinois attorneys in more than 50 practice areas. The list of Illinois Super Lawyers is published annually in the February issues of Chicago magazine and Illinois Super Lawyers, which has been mailed to every attorney in the state.

SOURCE: Law & Politics
Web Site: www.superlawyers.com
www.lawandpolitics.com
Key Professional Media, Inc. © 2007 All rights reserved.


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Chicago Sun Times
December 14, 2005 / Front Page


Broken-hearted: Family wins lawsuit claiming transplant patient got damaged heart
By Steve Patterson, The Chicago Sun-Times

The surgeon was set, a donated heart waited in a cooler and the patient was brought in. Carl Longnecker's chest was opened and his heart removed. When the surgeon lifted the lid on the cooler, he immediately saw what he would later describe as signs the donor heart was diseased. But the surgeon had no alternative but to place the donated heart inside the chest of the 58-year-old Woodstock man. Longnecker died three days later without waking. On Monday, a Cook County jury awarded Longnecker's family $2.7 million, citing negligence by Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood where the transplant occurred.

The doctor who transplanted the heart wasn't sued, and the doctor who examined it at another hospital — and approved it for a transplant — wasn't found liable in the death.

Instead, the jury cited Loyola for not telling one of its doctors, Sirish Parvathaneni, that he needed to examine the heart while it was both inside and outside the donor's body at Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, attorney Tom Leahy said.

"He thought he had to hurry and get it back to Loyola, so he bagged it and shipped it," Leahy said. "But our experts said you have to look at it out of the body to see if it's diseased."

A Loyola spokeswoman said "malpractice did not occur" in the case and that "several physicians" not involved in the case said "it was suitable for transplantation." The hospital cited the "small percentage of patients" who don't react well to a transplant.

HAD WAITED 14 MONTHS
Connie Longnecker said it was her own curiosity into her husband's death that helped her realize something troubling had occurred.

"I requested his autopsy and operating room reports," she said. "Even with my layman's skills, I could see there was a problem."

In his post-operative report, the transplant surgeon Dr. Bryan Foy wrote about the diseased condition of the donor heart "in terms I could understand," she said.

"Sometimes, you can't undo a wrong," she said. "I don't think anybody won. What I want, I can't have back."

Carl Longnecker had been waiting 14 months for the call that came at 1 a.m. on June 12, 2001. A match had been made and he needed to quickly get to the Maywood hospital for a transplant.

A heart transplant, he'd promised his family, would give him "a new lease on life," his wife recalled him saying. "He wanted to have more time with his children and grandchildren."

More time to fish and play ball with the boys and cook in the Easy Bake Oven with the girls, he thought, and more time for woodwork around their Victorian house.

'SO HURTFUL'
A retired engineer from Baxter Healthcare, Carl Longnecker had suffered three heart attacks and knew that if he could get a new heart, he'd have a 50 percent chance of living 10 more years, Leahy said.

Loyola's reputation for heart transplant success excited him, his wife remembered, and they went into the hospital with high hopes.

Carl Longnecker was admitted to the hospital at 3 a.m. the morning he got the call, but after a 22-hour surgery, doctors approached his wife.

"They just said it wasn't going as well as they expected," she said. "That's what's so hurtful, so disappointing, that they didn't explain."

Three days later, he died.

By December, she had received the reports she requested.

Leahy, who tried the case with Peter Hoste, said the reports showed the donated heart was damaged by arteriosclerosis — a hardening of the arteries — and hypertrophy.

HOSPITAL TO CONTEST VERDICT
The 46-year-old donor, they later learned, was a smoker and drinker who had "uncontrolled hypertension," Leahy said, adding that the donor had used marijuana and was suspected of using cocaine.

But John Stalmack, who represented Parvathaneni, insists "it wasn't a diseased heart" and had only mild abnormalities.

Though Loyola says it will contest the jury's decision, Connie Longnecker said she hopes the verdict will "help maybe another family from having to experience this."

"If there's a benefit from this," she said, "it's that I hope they take more time with the next person."


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Chicago Tribune
December 15, 2005

Wife sees no winners in verdict on transplant
By Carolyn Rusin, Special to the Tribune. Tribune staff reporter Carolyn Starks contributed to this story

Connie Longnecker hopes that a $2.7 million jury verdict will help prevent others from experiencing the tragedy she faced when her husband died after receiving what her lawyer contends was a diseased heart during transplant surgery in June 2001.

"Truly, no one won in this because I still don't have my husband," Longnecker said Wednesday. "I feel if people hear my story, they will realize what can happen."

On Monday, a Cook County Circuit Court jury found that Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood was negligent in the death of Longnecker's husband, Carl, 58, and awarded $2.7 million in damages to his estate.

The Woodstock resident, who had been waiting for a new heart for 14 months, never regained consciousness after the surgery and died three days later.

A lawsuit filed by his estate alleged that the donor heart used in the transplant was enlarged and damaged by hardening of the arteries. The suit also alleged that the doctor who harvested the heart from a 46-year-old donor failed to diagnose the abnormalities, said Tom Leahy, the attorney for Longnecker's estate.

"It was unusual because they discarded [Longnecker's] heart before they opened the cooler with the donor heart," Leahy said. "The surgeon had no choice than to transplant the diseased heart."

Thomas Burke Jr., the lawyer who represented Loyola, said he expects to appeal the verdict. He said a team of doctors examined the heart before the surgery and found it suitable for transplant and not diseased.

Burke said Longnecker had a history of heart problems, including three heart attacks and open-heart surgery.

Loyola has done 600 transplants since the inception of its heart program, and this was the first heart transplant-related lawsuit against the hospital. Burke said about 6 percent of people who receive heart transplants die within a year after surgery.

Though Loyola was found negligent, the jury ruled that the doctor who harvested the donor heart, Sirish Parvathaneni, who also was named in the lawsuit, was not liable. The transplant surgeon was not named in the suit.

"I don't know how they hold Loyola accountable if they didn't find either the harvesting doctor or transplant doctor did anything wrong," Burke said. "There is something inconsistent here. If there is any problem here, it's with the verdict."

Leahy said that although the heart was inspected while in the donor's body at Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, it was never examined after it was removed and taken to Loyola. An examination was not required under Loyola's transplant policies, he said.

The jury found that Loyola failed to train its harvesting doctor to examine the heart while it was both inside and outside the body, he said.

"There are no guidelines; there is nothing written that the heart should be examined after it is removed," Leahy said.

Connie Longnecker said she became curious about how her husband died after Loyola's surgeons were evasive about why the surgery was not successful. She decided to ask for the operating room reports and autopsy results, she said.

"They were very evasive and didn't have the courage to come and talk to me," said Longnecker, who has three adult children. "They made it look like it was one of those rare times that it failed. That's wrong. You need to be honest with people."


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Chicago Daily Law Bulletin
December 14, 2005 / Front Page

Jury awards family $ 2.7 million in suit against hospital
By John Flynn Rooney

A Cook County Circuit Court jury has awarded $ 2.7 million to the family of a 58-year-old Woodstock man who died shortly after receiving a diseased heart in a transplant operation at Loyola University Medical Center.

The verdict in favor of Carl Longnecker's widow, Connie Longnecker, and their three adult children, came against the medical center Monday afternoon following a two-week trial before Cook County Circuit Judge Irwin J. Solganick.

Carl Longnecker, a retired Baxter Healthcare engineer, underwent a heart transplant on June 12, 2001, at the west suburban Maywood hospital. Longnecker never regained consciousness after the surgery and died 21/2 days later, said Peter D. Hoste, who along with his partner, Tom Leahy, both of Leahy & Hoste in Chicago, represented the family.

The lawsuit alleged that Dr. Sirish Parvathaneni, the surgeon who harvested the heart, should have rejected it because the 46-year-old donor had high blood pressure, smoked, drank and used illegal drugs. Connie Longnecker, etc., et al. v. Loyola University Medical Center, et al., No. 02 L 7989.

The jury cleared Parvathaneni of liability.

John M. Stalmack and John J. Riewer, both partners with Bollinger, Ruberry & Garvey who represented Parvathaneni, argued that their client was not negligent and that the heart was acceptable for transplant, Stalmack said.

The plaintiffs asserted that Loyola was negligent for allowing Parvathaneni to obtain the heart from the donor without the doctor understanding that he was responsible for evaluating the donor heart for transplant.

Benjamin E. Patterson and Thomas J. Burke Jr., both with Hall, Prangle & Schoonveld LLC, representing the medical center, said seven doctors and a nurse who was the transplant coordinator, testified that the donor heart was suitable for transplant.

Post-trial motions will be filed on the medical center's behalf, and if those are unsuccessful, an appeal likely would be filed with the 1st District Appellate Court, Burke said.

© 2007 by Law Bulletin Publishing Company
Reprinted with permission from Law Bulletin Publishing Company.


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Crain's Chicago Business
February 28, 2005

Illinois' Largest Verdicts and Settlements, 2004

Amount and type: $19.2 Million Verdict — Motor vehicle
Court and date: Cook Co. Circuit Court, 2/18/04
Lead plaintiff's attorney(s): Peter D. Hoste, Tom Leahy; Leahy & Hoste
Lead defense attorney(s): Jeannine Gilleran, Patrick C. Dowd; Dowd & Dowd
Judge: Carol P. McCarthy

Description: Tengler v. Preferred Unlimited Inc. Truck pushed car into oncoming traffic, where it was hit by a semi. 28-year-old passenger died.



Amount and type: $5 Million Settlement — Medical malpractice
Court and date: Cook Co. Circuit Court, 1/20/04
Lead plaintiff's attorney(s): Peter D. Hoste and Tom Leahy, Leahy & Hoste
Lead defense attorney(s): Jody Pabst and Lawrence Helms, Swanson Martin & Bell
Judge: Richard B. Berland

Description: Bugner v. Unnamed Hospital. Patient showed change in vital signs at 10 a.m., first intervention at 5 p.m. Died the next morning.


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Chicago Sun Times
February 19, 2004

Jury awards $19.2 million to survivors of man killed in car crash
By Abdon M. Pallasch

A Cook County jury awarded $19.2 million Wednesday to the widow and two sons of a Union, Ill., tool-and-die worker killed in a traffic accident in 1999.

William Tengler was a passenger in a car waiting to turn left off Route 20 south of Marengo when a truck driven by David Villareal of Preferred Trucking smashed into him from behind, propelling the car into oncoming traffic where it was hit by a cement hauler traveling at 50 mph, said Tom Leahy, attorney for Billie Jo Tengler and her sons.

Villareal had marijuana and cocaine in his system, Leahy said. The company he worked for, Preferred Trucking, was owned by Michael Spano, who is now in jail on an unrelated conviction as part of the Cicero corruption case that brought down Cicero Town President Betty Loren-Maltese.

Spano is serving 141/2 years at the federal penitentiary in Milan, Mich., for conspiracy, money laundering and tax evasion.

Defense lawyers tried to keep Spano's name and any mention of the drugs in Villareal's system out of the trial. They succeeded on Spano's name, but the drugs were mentioned and played a role in the jurors' decision, the attorneys said.

"I think any time you introduce, over objection, by the way, drug impairment with a truck driver driving an 80,000-pound vehicle and destroying a family's life, I think the drugs ... played a major consideration — after talking with the jury — about why the verdict went to that figure," said Patrick Dowd, who represented Preferred and Villareal. They admitted liability for the accident.

Preferred Trucking is defunct. The company's insurance paid its $1 million policy to the Tenglers and the family of the car's driver, who was also injured.

The bulk of the verdict will be paid by Zurich-American Insurance, which covered the policy of the company that owned the truck and leased it to Preferred, Leahy said.


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Chicago Tribune
February 1, 2002

Jury awards $22.6 million to amputee

A Cook County jury awarded $22.6 million Wednesday to a Chicago taxi driver whose legs had to be amputated above the knees after he suffered complications from coronary artery bypass surgery.

Taher Anjarwala, 54, developed compartment syndrome when his legs swelled while he was in Rush-Presbyterian-St.Luke's Medical Center in January 1997, said attorney Peter Hoste of the law firm Leahy & Hoste.

The ailment went untreated for two days at Rush-St. Luke's, where Anjarwala had been transferred following emergency surgery at Rush North Shore Medical Center in Skokie.

By the time doctors operated to relieve the pressure in Anjarwala's legs, the muscle in his legs had died, Hoste said.

In a statement, a Rush-St.Luke's spokesman said the hospital was disappointed with the verdict and that doctors had worked "gallantly" to save Anjarwala's life.

The jury's award is believed to be the largest medical malpractice judgment ever against the hospital, which plans to appeal, spokesman Chris Martin said.


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Chicago Tribune
February 20, 2004

Family gets $19 million for death
Man was killed in 1999 wreck
By Jeff Long, Tribune Staff reporter

A Cook County jury has awarded $19.2 million to the family of a McHenry County man killed in a 1999 crash near Union.

Another McHenry County man injured in the crash settled his portion of the lawsuit midway through the two-week trial this week for about $2 million.

The jury found truck driver David Villarreal of Cicero and the company for which he drove, the now-defunct Preferred Unlimited Inc. of Cicero, liable for damages in the wreck. The crash killed William J. Tengler, 28, of Marengo, and injured David H. Smith, now 32, also of Marengo.

Insurance is expected to cover the award and settlement, according to lawyers in the case.

"I would say it's a substantial verdict," said Peter Hoste, a lawyer for Tengler's family. "But it's a substantial loss. We had a 28-year-old guy with two young children and a wife."

Smith's lawyer said his client still is experiencing the effects of his injuries.

"He still has chronic back pains that make it difficult for him to lift anything over 70 pounds," said the lawyer, Craig Brown. "He has short-term memory loss and difficulty with learning new things".

Smith, who was a apprentice at a tool and die shop before the crash, was unable to continue that work, said Brown, adding that he now works as a maintenance man on a pig farm in the Marengo area.

Tengler, a passenger in a car driven by Smith, died about two hours after the crash on October 11, 1999, leaving his wife, Billie Jo Tengler and two boys, who were 5 and 4.

Smith's car was headed sout on U.S. Highway 20, preparing to turn left onto West Union Road, when it was rear-ended by Villarreal's tractor-trailer.

Tests showed that Villarreal had marijuana and cocaine in his system, according to lawyers on both sides.

Villarreal's lawyer, Patrick Dowd, who also represented Preferred Unlimited, said Thursday that his clients admit liability. Faulty brakes on Villarreal's truck also were a factor in the crash, Dowd said.

No criminal charges were filed against Villarreal.

Villarreal, who is still a truck driver, could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

"He admitted fault," Dowd said. "He admitted he never saw the vehicle until he struck it. He was remorseful. He wept on the stand."


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PR Newswire
June 16, 2004

$2,000,000 Punitive Damage Award in Slovinski vs. Elliott

CHICAGO, June 16 /PRNewswire/ — On Wednesday, June 16, 2004, a Cook County jury returned a verdict of $2,081,600.00 against Defendant James Elliott, a former CEO of a telecommunications company. The Plaintiff, Jerry Slovinski of Naperville, was the CFO of Elliott's company. At a meeting in July of 1996, Elliott told financial executives of MCI/World Comm that his firm did not have financial statements because Slovinski failed to prepare them, saying Slovinski was not doing his job, coming in late and leaving early, sneaking out to workout, and "chasing p---- all day."

The jury awarded Slovinski $81,600.00 for his emotional distress and $2,000,000 in punitive damages. The Honorable Robert E. Gordon presided over the two day trial at the Daley Center. The case was entitled Jerry Slovinski vs. James Elliott and Cherry Communications, 01 L 9564. The case against Cherry Communications was dismissed after Cherry went into bankruptcy several years ago.

The Plaintiff Slovinski was represented by attorney Tom Leahy of Leahy & Hoste, 321 North Clark Street, Suite 2222, Chicago, Illinois 60610. Phone: 312/372-8893. The Defendant James Elliott was represented by Jeffrey Patrick Guzak, 1618 Colonial Parkway, Inverness, Illinois 60067. Phone: 847/705-8195.

Slovinski alleged that Cherry owed MCI/World Comm millions of dollars for long distance telephone service and was in danger of losing further phone access when MCI/ World Comm asked Elliott to show them Cherry's financial statements. Elliott went to the meeting and told the MCI/World Comm controller David Myers that the statements had not been prepared because of Slovinski's failure to do his job.

Elliott failed to appear for his deposition before trial on several occasions, so a default judgment was entered against him. The case went to trial solely on the issue of damages.

© 2004 PR Newswire


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Chicago Daily Law Bulletin
February 19, 2004

Jury Awards $19 Million Verdict for Truck Accident
By John Flynn Rooney

A Cook County Circuit Court jury has returned a $19.2 million verdict for the family of a man killed in 1999 vehicular accident.

After a two-week trial, the jury ruled in favor of Billie Jo Tengler and her two young sons, of Union, Ill., in McHenry County. Tengler's husband, William Tengler, a tool-and-die worker, died on Oct. 11, 1999, during a multi-vehicle accident in rural McHenry County. He was 28. William Tengler was a passenger in a car that was waiting to make a left turn off Route 20. A truck rear-ended the car causing it to veer into oncoming traffic where it was hit by a truck hauling cement, said Tom Leahy, an attorney representing the Tenglers. David Villarreal, an employee of Preferred Unlimited Inc., was driving the truck. Tests after the accident revealed that Villarreal had high doses of marijuana and cocaine in his system, added Leahy, who tried the case with his partner, Peter D. Hoste, both with Leahy & Hoste in Chicago.

Preferred, a Cicero trucking firm, is now defunct. Preferred's insurer is expected to pay a $1 million policy to the Tenglers and the driver of the car, who was injured, Leahy said. Zurich Insurance Co. will pay the remainder of the verdict. Zurich insured Rollins Leasing Corp., another defendant, which owned the truck and leased it to Preferred, Leahy said. Cook County Circuit Judge Carol Pearce McCarthy presided over the trial. The trial took place in Cook County because the trucking company defendants do business here, according to Leahy. Billie Joe Tengler, as administrator of the Estate of William Tengler v. Preferred Unlimited Inc., et al., No. 99 L 11861.

Villarreal and Preferred were represented by Patrick C. Dowd and Jeannine S. Gilleran, both with Dowd & Dowd Ltd. in Chicago.

© 2004 by Law Bulletin Publishing Company
Reprinted with permission from Law Bulletin Publishing Company.


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Chicago Daily Law Bulletin
January 31, 2002

Legless Taxi Driver Awarded $22 Million on Med-Mal Claim
By Kate Schott

A Cook County jury awarded a $22.5 million verdict late Wednesday to a Chicago cab driver whose legs were amputated above the knee after doctors allegedly failed to respond to a medical emergency.

In 1997 while undergoing his second heart surgery at Rush North Shore Medical Center in Skokie, Taher Anjarwala, 54, suffered complications that led to compartment syndrome, a condition that cuts off blood circulation to the lower legs, according to a medical malpractice lawsuit.

He was then transferred to Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center.

Tom Leahy and Peter D. Hoste, of Leahy & Hoste, represented the plaintiff in Taher and Sakina Anjarwala v. Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center, et al., No. 98 L 14068. The plaintiff claimed that hospital staff "failed to timely diagnose and timely treat the condition," Leahy said.

The condition is a "medical emergency" that needs treatment within an hour, he said. Hospital staff did not perform the procedure until several hours after the condition had set in, plaintiff attorneys asserted.

They also claimed that no individual doctor was in charge of Anjarwala's care. Anjarwala's legs were amputated a few weeks after the surgery.

Leahy said the defendants "claimed that Mr. Anjarwala had already outlived his life expectancy because of his serious heart condition. We argued to the jury that the man is a survivor." David J. Slawkowski of Anderson, Bennett & Partners, who represented the downtown hospital and Dr. Timothy W. James, did not immediately return a phone call early Thursday afternoon. John J. Reidy of Ruff, Weidenaar & Reidy Ltd., who represented Dr. Elaine M. Winkel, also could not be reached for comment.

Two other defendants — Cardiovascular Surgery Associates Inc. and Rush North Shore Medical Center in Skokie — settled for a total of $350,000 before the verdict was reached. Rush's Dr. Jonathan Somers was dismissed as a defendant. Circuit Judge Donald M. Devlin presided during the trial. Anjarwala, a Muslim who came to America from Pakistan in 1976, is a naturalized citizen of the United States.

His attorneys said they were concerned that Anjarwala would be discriminated against during the trial because of his ethnicity in light of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"We're pleased that a Pakistani-American could receive that type of fair treatment from a Chicago jury," Leahy said. "He can't work anymore. He can't walk."

© 2002 by Law Bulletin Publishing Company
Reprinted with permission from Law Bulletin Publishing Company.


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Chicago Daily Law Bulletin
November 29, 2000

In Circuit Court

The family of a 35-year-old woman who died while being treated at Roseland Community Hospital was awarded a $9 million verdict Monday by a Cook County jury.

Rachell Davis was taken to the hospital's emergency room in 1994, after collapsing at her father's funeral. According to plaintiff attorney Tom Leahy, Davis' death was caused by a blood clot, which he said a physician failed to diagnose. The Northern Trust Co., et al. v. Larry Mitchell, M.D., and Medical Emergency Care Associates, No. 96 L 11863.

In addition to Leahy, plaintiffs were represented by Leahy's associate, Peter D. Hoste. Joseph A. Camarra, a partner in Cassiday, Schade & Gloor, represented the defendants. Circuit Judge Donald D. O'Brien Jr. presided.

© 2000 by Law Bulletin Publishing Company
Reprinted with permission from Law Bulletin Publishing Company.


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Chicago Daily Law Bulletin
April 18, 1994

$6 Million Med-Mal Verdict

A Cook County jury has awarded more than $6 million to a karate teacher who claimed he lost muscle control and sensation because of neurosurgeons' negligence during surgery.

Robert Mack, 52, alleged that while undergoing surgery in 1987 for a herniated disc, doctors tore part of his spinal cord, resulting in a condition known as Brown-Sequard syndrome.

Mack held a black belt in karate, which he had taught to children.

But because of his condition, Mack can no longer teach karate or write, his right arm and hand shake and he walks with a limp, said his attorney, Chicago lawyer Tom Leahy. Mack also suffers a partial loss of sensation to the left side of his body and partial loss of muscle control to his right side, Leahy said.

After deliberating for 5 1/2 hours, the jury reached the verdict Friday afternoon against Loyola University Hospital and the two neurosurgeons involved in the procedure.

The award includes $5.1 million for pain and suffering, disability and disfigurement, $900,000 for lost earnings and $12,575 for medical expenses, Leahy said.

The hospital and doctors had argued that Mack suffered a stroke during surgery, Leahy said. Lawyers for the hospital and doctors were represented by Chicago lawyers Robet S. Baker and Ruth V. Enright, who were not immediately available to comment.

Cook County Judge Warren D. Wolfson presided over the two-week trial. The case was Robert Mack v. Loyola University Hospital, et al., No. 89 L 6979.

© 1994 by Law Bulletin Publishing Company
Reprinted with permission from Law Bulletin Publishing Company.


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National Jury Verdict Review & Analysis
August, 2002

$7,100,000 RECOVERY - Motor vehicle negligence - Truck/pedestrian - Defendant truck driver alleges he was unaware of striking the decedent - Blood, soft tissue and personal objects belonging to the decedent were found in a trail - DNA testing later confirmed remains to be those of the decedent - Case resolved via settlement during trial. Cook County, Illinois

Plaintiff's Cause
This case arose out of the death of the 51-year-old male decedent, who was allegedly struck by a semi-tractor driven by the defendant truck driver in the course of his employment with the codefendant Ro-Mar Trucking. The plaintiffs contended that the defendant driver negligently failed to keep a proper lookout and negligently failed to avoid striking the decedent. The plaintiffs additionally contended that the defendant negligently failed to stop after striking the decedent, whose remains were discovered by the trail of blood, soft tissue and personal effects leading from the supposed point of impact to the defendant's trucking facility. The subject accident occurred on January 25, 1998, at approximately 7:30 A.M. The plaintiffs contended that the decedent was struck and dragged approximately 330 feet by a semi- tractor driven by the defendant truck driver, near the service drive leading to the codefendant Ro-Mar trucking facility at 35th Street and Kedzie Avenue in Chicago, Ill.

A trail of blood, scalp and the decedent's personal objects were found on the road leading from near where the defendant had parked his truck to the Kedzie Avenue exit. A police investigation later found blood and hair fibers underneath the truck, later confirmed to belong to the decedent through DNA testing. There were no witnesses to the impact and the defendant driver testified that he did not see anything unusual that morning.

The plaintiff estate alleged that the decedent, a security guard working at a facility adjacent to the Ro-Mar location, was walking to the bus stop on Kedzie after his shift when he was struck by the defendants' truck. The plaintiff also alleged that the defendant trucking company was willful and wanton for the entrustment of its truck to the defendant driver, who had a ten-year history of unsafe driving practices.

The decedent was survived by his wife, age 41, and two male children, ages 13 and 14. The plaintiff estate claimed that the decedent's wife, who had a long history of psychiatric disorders, required lifelong care as a result of the death of the decedent. Minimal lost wages were claimed as the decedent's income was limited at the time of his death.

Defendants' Contentions
The defendants alleged that the decedent was contributorily negligent in walking next to a running truck. The defendant corporation denied the plaintiffs' assertion that the defendant's entrustment of a truck to the defendant driver rose to the level of willful and wanton misconduct. The defendant corporation's safety officer conceded, however, that the defendant driver "should not have been driving the truck that day" and was a "marginal driver at best."The case settled prior to trial for $7,100,000 ($1,000,000 primary insurance coverage, $6,000,000 excess insurance coverage, and $100,000 paid by the defendant corporation).

Reference
The Northern Trust Company, as Special Administrator of the Estate of Daniel K. Vales, Deceased vs. Ro-Mar Transportation Systems, Inc., et al. Case no. 98-L-3010; Judge Richard J. Elrod, 7-02.

Attorneys for plaintiffs: Tom Leahy and Peter D. Hoste of Leahy & Hoste in Chicago. Attorneys for defendants: Andrew Kopon and Edward Siegert of Cremer, Kopon, Shaughnessy & Spina in Chicago. Krum & Forester of Chicago and William A. Geiser of Johnson & Bell in Chicago.


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Illinois State Bar Journal
September 1, 1998

Devastation in Africa adds to existing burdens
Leahy recalls ISBA donations to Kenya, Tanzania in 1994

"We were so impressed with the poverty and the needs of the friendly people we met in Kenya and Tanzania," Chicago attorney Tom Leahy recalled last month, "that we were pleased to be able to leave something behind to help them."

Leahy led a 96-person Illinois State Bar Association safari in the two African nations during February and March 1994, when he was president.

On Aug. 7 this year, the U.S. Embassies in the capitals of Kenya and Tanzania, were ruthlessly bombed by terrorists, killing 257 people and injuring more than 5,500 - primarily innocent residents of the two cities.

The devastation added immeasurably to the burdens that already existed in the two grieving nations, where doctors are scarce, infant mortality is high and life expectancy is low.

Learning in advance of the 1994 safari about humanitarian needs in the impoverished countries, Leahy asked each participant to make a contribution toward one of three charities in East Africa.

A total of $5,069 was distributed to appreciative beneficiaries during receptions at which the ISBA was thanked enthusiastically and honored with mementos.

"The opportunity to give, not just take, was fulfilling for all of us," Leahy said, remembering that one official traveled two days by bus over primitive roads to attend the presentation.

Joined by Terrence K. Hegarty of Chicago, then ISBA second vice president; Patrick J. Leston of Wheaton, a member of the Board of Governors, and Jon W. DeMoss, former ISBA executive director, Leahy handed checks to leaders of two legal organizations (ISBA Bar News, April 1, 1994, pages 1 and 4).

David Gachuki, chair of Kituo Cha Sheria, the Law Society of Kenya's Legal Advice Centre in Nairobi, accepted an ISBA check for $1,430.

Evarist Hubert Mbuya, head of the Tanganyika Law Society in Dar es Salaam, received $1,105 toward the Tanzanian bar's free legal assistance and human rights protection efforts.

Mbuya, who made the long bus trip to Arusha for the ISBA presentation, remarked that the society's total annual budget was equivalent to only $9,000 in U.S. funds. "From this, you can easily see how significant your contribution will be towards the development of this legal aid scheme," he said.

Mbuya added in 1994 that only 136 practicing attorneys were available to assist Tanzania's 28 million people, a ratio of one lawyer per 205,000 population.

The largest contribution of $2,534 was given to Kilimanjaro Children's Hospital in Arusha, thanks to an appeal from attorney Susan Fox of Colorado, an ISBA member since 1978.

She wrote to ISBA tour members in February 1994 that she had become interested in the hospital during a visit 10 years earlier to do legal work for clients who were stationed in Tanzania on a school-building mission.

"It quickly became apparent that we couldn't simply close our eyes to the suffering and concentrate on the scenery," Fox wrote. She pointed out that it is common for 30 percent of children under age 5 to die from preventable diseases.

The infant mortality rate in Tanzania is 105 deaths in every 1,000 births, and life expectancies are 40 for men and 43 for women. There is one medical professional for every 23,000 people. (Kenya ranks slightly better, with one medical professional per 6,000 people, an infant mortality rate of 55 per 1,000 and life expectancies of 54 for both men and women.)

"In some villages, measles epidemics kill almost all newborn children," Fox said. "Clearly, wildlife is not the only endangered species you will see in East Africa."

Fox helped establish the Consortium for Community Centered Comprehensive Child Care, a Colorado-based initiative to raise funds for the children's hospital, and she was appointed to the hospital board of trustees.

From the legal officials he met in Kenya and Tanzania, Tom Leahy learned that only the few lawyers there can help a fearful, impoverished people realize the importance of justice as "nourishment for the spirit."

Thanking ISBA members for their generosity, one official noted that, "in a land of great natural distractions, it is too easy to overlook the needs of the poor."

The two nations, together smaller in total area than Alaska, in 1994 garnered a total of more than $600 million from tourism. In 1998, before the terrorist bombing, Kenya's tourist business already was at its worst level in 35 years. The Chicago Tribune on Aug. 16 advised tourists to "consider deferring travel to these two countries until more is known about the bombings and whether there is any continued threat against Americans."

The same newspaper a week earlier had cited the main U.S. interest in Africa as the peaceful development of its states "so that they are no longer islands of instability and poverty that require U.S. assistance or intervention ..."

As grateful East Africans would say to their friends in the Illinois Bar, "Asante sana." Many thanks; go in peace.


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