On June 1st, 2016, Keith A. Hebeisen and Bradley M. Cosgrove, partners at Clifford Law Offices, obtained a $7.75 million verdict in Cook County Circuit Court against a doctor whose patient died of cardiac complications hours after spinal surgery. Susan A. Capra, nurse and partner at the firm, worked up the case for the two-week trial before Judge Donald Suriano.
The eight-woman-four-man jury deliberated for approximately an hour before reaching the $7.75 million verdict against Dr. Wesley Y. Yapor, neurosurgeon at Resurrection Hospital on Chicago's far northwest side.
The verdict was on behalf of Jon Munden, 56, who as of 2008 had a history of diabetes, hypertension, obesity, coronary artery disease and sleep apnea. In April of 1997, Mr. Munden had an anterior wall myocardial infarction with stent placement in the left anterior descending artery and the mid left circumflex artery. In October of 1997, Mr. Munden had a re-stenosis of the left anterior descending artery requiring stent placement. In February 2000, a stent was placed in Mr. Munden's right coronary artery. In 2002, a stent was placed in the circumflex artery. Thus, as of the fall 2008, Mr. Munden had five stents for coronary artery disease.
On November 11, 2008, Mr. Munden had an initial visit with neurosurgeon, Wesley Y. Yapor, M.D., for neck and back pain. The neck and back pain were longstanding problems for Mr. Munden dating back at least a year. A MRI demonstrated cord compression at the level of C3-4. Dr. Yapor diagnosed Mr. Munden with spinal cord compression at C3-4 and C5-6 with Lhermitte's sign. Dr. Yapor recommended a two level cervical disc replacement which was scheduled for November 24, 2008, at Resurrection Medical Center. Before surgery, Dr. Yapor wanted to get an updated MRI on Mr. Munden's cervical spine. He also ordered various preoperative tests and had told Mr. Munden to stop his aspirin therapy as of November 12, 2008. On November 18, 2008, Dr. Yapor had a follow-up office visit with Mr. Munden. Again, the plan was to proceed to surgery on November 24, 2008. Dr. Yapor did not request or order that Mr. Munden obtain pre-operative clearance from a cardiologist or his primary care physician despite his extensive cardiac history.
On November 24, 2008 Dr. Yapor performed neck surgery on Munden as planned. However, four hours after surgery, Munden developed a ventricular arrhythmia which was caused by ischemia that caused his heart to fail and tragically resulted in his death. He had been married to LaDonna Munden (now age 61) for 34 years. The couple had two adult children- Marla Munden (now age 35) and Jonathan Munden (now age 28).
"The jury saw that a great deal of this case was about common sense," Hebeisen said following the verdict late Wednesday. "The doctor violated the reasonable standard of care. This husband and father of two should still be here."
"This case was very complex with medical records that had to be dissected and explained to the jury," Cosgrove said. "They obviously understood the seriousness of this tragedy and the medical issues involved."
The case was brought by Munden's widow, La Donna, as well as his two adult children.
Other defendants at trial were Madison Sample, M.D., anesthesiologist, and Jason Moore, CRNA, who were also alleged to be negligent in the failure to have cardiac clearance. Vijay H. Vohra, M.D., a cardiologist, was alleged to have failed to report significant abnormalities on a pre-operative EKG. All these defendants were found not liable by the jury.
Resurrection Hospital settled as a defendant for $2 million prior to trial.
For further information, please contact Clifford Law Offices Communications Partner Pamela Sakowicz Menaker at 847-721-0909. www.CliffordLaw.com