Taft partners J. Timothy Eaton and Jonathan B. Amarilio successfully argued for the reversal of a $50.3 million jury verdict against Taft client NorthShore University HealthSystem (NorthShore), an integrated healthcare system serving patients throughout the Chicago metropolitan area.
The case concerned a claim brought against NorthShore and its treaters for their alleged negligence in connection with the labor and delivery of Julien Florez, a minor. Plaintiffs claimed that NorthShore’s treaters failed to deliver Julien by C-section in a timely manner, resulting in cognitive, intellectual, and physical deficits. NorthShore defended that Julien’s injuries were actually the result of a chronic process that occurred long before his mother arrived at the hospital.
Shortly before trial, plaintiffs disclosed a new treater who diagnosed Julien for the first time with Autism Spectrum Disorder. NorthShore attempted to supplement the opinions of its experts, who believed that Julien’s autism explained much, if not all, of his condition. The motion and trial judges both struck the supplemented opinions of NorthShore’s experts and barred the defense from mentioning autism at trial, finding the issue was raised too close to the trial date to be considered by the jury. The jury then returned the $50.3 million verdict for plaintiffs. A third judge who denied NorthShore’s post-trial motion reached the same conclusion as to the admissibility of Julien’s new autism diagnosis. Eaton and Amarilio were hired to handle the appeal.
The Illinois Appellate Court reversed the jury’s verdict and remanded the case for a new trial, finding that the judges below abused their discretion in barring NorthShore from supplementing its experts’ opinions and in prohibiting NorthShore from discussing Julien’s autism diagnosis at trial. The appellate court also agreed with Eaton and Amarilio that this error related to issues of both causation and damages, that its exclusion unfairly prejudiced the defense, and that NorthShore was denied a fair trial as a result.
Read more about this case in Law360 and The Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.
Eaton and Amarilio are leaders of Taft's appellate practice. Eaton has a distinguished career in commercial and appellate litigation and has been involved in a number of high-profile cases. Amarilio has extensive experience appearing before state and federal appellate courts, primarily the Illinois Appellate Court, the Illinois Supreme Court, and the United States Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit.