Burke Wise Morrissey Kaveny Secures $10 Million Settlement from Hospital owned by Advocate Health and Hospital Corp.



A Naperville man, injured while playing touch football at a 2005 youth ministry retreat, will receive $10 million after his assigned neurosurgeon failed to treat a brain abnormality that later ruptured, leaving him permanently disabled.

The man, Michael Zegarski, was represented by Elizabeth Kaveny and Kevin Burke of the Chicago law firm Burke Wise Morrissey Kaveny and Jerry Esrig, formerly of Zaideman & Esrig (recently appointed to the Circuit Court of Cook County).

Mr. Zegarski, now 41 years old, is married and lives with his wife, Michelle, and their two children, ages 10 and 13.

On September 10, 2005, Mr. Zegarski, then 33 years old, was playing touch football with colleagues at Young Life, a non-denominational Christian organization that works with junior high and high school children. During the game, Mr. Zegarski collided with another player, suffering a head injury and he was taken to an Advocate Health hospital.

At the hospital, Mr. Zegarski was diagnosed with a minor skull fracture on the right side of his head which required no treatment and would heal on its own. Additional diagnostic imaging, however, also found an abnormality on the left side of his brain. Dr. Kevin Jackson, a neurosurgeon at that hospital, was assigned to the patient and concluded that the abnormality on the left side was a benign vascular malformation and told the family there was nothing to worry about. During a November 2005 follow-up appointment, Dr. Jackson recommended no further treatment of the abnormality on the left side of Mr. Zegarski's brain, except to schedule an MRI in six months.

Unfortunately, that brain anomaly was not benign – it was an arteriovenous malformation (AVM), an abnormal collection of blood vessels in which arteries connect directly with veins, without the intervention of the capillary system. As a result, blood flows into the veins under greater pressure and with risk of rupture: patients with an AVM have a 2-4% annual risk of rupture and a 50% risk of death or severe neurological consequences in those instances.

On March 21, 2006, just four months later, the AVM on the left side of Mr. Zegarski's brain ruptured, causing him catastrophic neurological injury, including paraplegia.

"Finding that abnormality on the left side of Mike's brain before it caused any problems, should have made September 10th the luckiest day of Mike's life," said family attorney Elizabeth Kaveny. "Patients must be given the information necessary to make medical decisions," said Kaveny. "The doctor's failure to give the Zegarskis the full picture of his condition, including the risks and benefits of various procedures to treat his condition had devastating results that this family will live with forever."

Today's settlement is between the Zegarski family and Advocate Health. The treating neurosurgeon, Dr. Kevin Jackson, refused to participate in settlement discussions and the hospital was forced to bear the weight of the errors of its assigned neurosurgeon. Dr. Jackson and the practice group he was employed by will stand trial in 2014.

Burke Wise Morrissey Kaveny has for nearly 20 years represented victims of negligence and their families in a wide range of liability litigation. The firm's broad knowledge, and extensive trial and mediation experience, have been instrumental in verdicts and settlements for clients valued at more than $750 million.

Attorney Contact: Elizabeth Kaveny (312) 580-2040

Media Contact: Denise Henderson (312) 848-0067