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Date: 02-14-2005


Case Number: 96 L 335

Judge: Unknown

Court: Circuit Court, 17th Judicial Circuit, Winnebago County

Plaintiff's Attorney:

Mark A. Rouleau, Rockford, Illinois

Defendant's Attorney:

Robert McWilliams of Kostantacos, Reuterfors, McWilliams, Brandt & Green, P.C., Rockford, Illinois

Jeffrey Spears of Hinshaw Culbertson, Rockford, Illinois


The plaintiff suffered a cervical cord compression at three levels with accompanying spinal stenosis and myelopathy that was misdiagnosed and treated as carpal tunnel syndrome.

Due to the delay of 5 months in correct diagnosis the plaintiff's condition deteoriated to the point of leaving him permanently disabled. The plaintiff was in his early 40's at the time of the treatment. The defendant was an orthopedic surgeon with specialization in hand surgeries.

The defendant ordered EMG's of the plaintiff for both the affected wrist and upper arm and his asymptomatic wrist. The EMG was negative for the affected left wrist but electrodiagnostically indicated that the right and asymptomatic wrist suffered carpal tunnel syndrome. In spite of this contradictory electrodiagnostic evidence the defendant performed a carpal tunnel decompression. After several months of follow-up the defendant noted in his chart that he did not know why the patient was still suffering symptoms and that some of the newer complaints (including pain running from the wrist into the chest wall) did not appear to be related to the carpal tunnel syndrome.

The plaintiff was subsequently diagnosed and treated by a neurosurgeon as suffering cervical cord compression at three levels with accompanying spinal stenosis and myelopathy. A corpectomy (removal of the central portions of the vertebra causing the stenosis or narowing of the spinal canal and compression on the cord)was performed with a spinal fusion, however the allograft (portion of cadaver bone)came loose and migrated towards the central cord. The surgery was sucessfully revised in a second procedure.

The defendant contended that there was no breech of the standard of care asserting that there was no reason for him to initially suspect cord compression. The defense also contended that the delay in diagnosis was not the proximate cause of the plaintiff's neurological injuries and damages asserting that the failed fusion caused most if not all of the injuries complained of.

The plaintiff's expert witness opined that the coexistence of carpal tunnel syndrome and cervical radiculopathy is very frequent and studies suggest that these conditions coexist in anywhere from 14 to 70 percent of the cases. A C6 radiculopathy and carpal tunnel syndrome can and often do occur together. The failure to record and consider cervical radiculopathy as a possible cause of Mr. Marshall's symptoms was a cause of the failure to identify Mr. Marshall's spinal cord condition. The failure to identify Mr. Marshall's spinal cord condition lead to a continuing degeneration of that condition and permanent neurological deficits.

The medical literature indicates that double crush injuries are common and physicians should take care to determine if nerve paths are compromised at more than one location.

Outcome: Settled for $1,200,000.00

Plaintiff's Experts: Dr. Douglas Sanderson, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, orthopedic surgeon

Dr. Gary Yarkony, Elgin, Illinois, Life Care Planner

Stanley V. Smith, Chicago, Illinois, Economist

Defendant's Experts:

William Burke, Ph.D., William H. Burke & Associates, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Life Care Planner

Mark S. Cohen, RUSH University Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois, orthopedic surgeon

Comments: None

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