BWMK Partners Kevin Burke and Elizabeth Kaveny Secure $6.75 Million Settlement in Brain Damage Delayed Diagnosis Suit

BWMK Partners Kevin Burke and Elizabeth Kaveny Secure $6.75 Million Settlement in Brain Damage Medical Malpractice Suit

Family to Receive $6.75 Million After Doctors Misdiagnose Condition

The family of a 68-year-old woman, who was misdiagnosed as having had a stroke, will receive $6.75 million after doctors at Provena St. Joseph Hospital failed to correctly analyze and treat a virus, leaving her permanently brain damaged.

A lawsuit in the matter was settled on Dec. 1 in Cook County court, just as the case was going to trial.

The virus that struck Judith Strzalka in April 2009 was the HSV-1 virus, the same one responsible for common cold sores. The virus lays dormant in an estimated 90 percent of the population, but can become active as a brain infection in otherwise healthy people in a condition called herpes simplex encephalitis (HSE). Ms. Strzalka is now unable to care for herself, has no memory, and does not recognize her own family members.

The Strzalka family is represented by Elizabeth A. Kaveny and Kevin G. Burke of the law firm Burke Wise Morrissey Kaveny.

On April 12, 2009, Judith was admitted to Provena St. Joseph Hospital complaining of headaches and with difficulty talking. Emergency room personnel admitted her and the next day she was seen by a neurologist, Dr. Syed Munzir, who diagnosed her with a stroke and ordered an MRI of the brain. The MRI of the brain was then incorrectly read by radiologist, Dr. Patrick Para, as ischemia or stroke.

Ms. Strzalka was kept at the hospital for five days and then released to her family. Two days later, Ms. Strzlka awoke with difficulty breathing, and an ambulance took her back to Provena where she was correctly diagnosed with HSE and a proper course of treatment was initiated. Unfortunately, the seven-day delay in accurately diagnosing her condition led to a devastating brain infection. The doctors' failure to correctly read the MRI, to properly diagnose Ms. Strzlka's symptoms, and to assess her clinical history led to her injuries.

"The doctors' failure to properly diagnose Judith has turned her into a different person," said attorney Elizabeth Kaveny. "She has no memory, no ability to make new memories, and is now lost to her husband, her family, her friends – even to herself."

The $6.75 million settlement was split between the insurance carriers for the doctors ($4.75 million) and Provena St. Joseph Hospital ($2 million). The case number is 2011 L 003689.

In a related development, an article in the Dec. 2, 2014, edition of the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin described the $6.75 million settlement reached by Burke and Kaveny. For the complete text, which includes extensive comments from Kaveny, please read the full reprint of the Dec. 2 article.

Attorney contact: Elizabeth Kaveny, [email protected], 312-580-2040

Media contact: Denise M. Henderson, [email protected], 312-848-0067