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Larry Rogers, Jr.: Family gets $6M after brain bleed

Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

June 26, 2017

By Lauraann Wood
Law Bulletin staff writer

The estate of a man who died two days after undergoing brain surgery has settled its lawsuit for $6 million.

Plaintiff Jeanette Horne sued Rush University Medical Center and neurosurgeon Demetrius Lopes in 2013, alleging Lopes failed to identify and address a fatal bleeding problem he caused while attempting to repair her husband Billy’s aneurysm.

Physicians identified an aneurysm in Horne’s brain while performing a work-up for vertigo on him, according to the lawsuit.

Lopes told Horne a month later that he could successfully treat his condition to the aneurysm by performing an endovascular procedure in which he would place a stent at the neck of his aneurysm and feed coils through its spaces to prevent blood from flowing into the aneurysm.

Lopes elected to perform the procedure despite hearing recommendations from colleagues that he should repair Horne’s aneurysm through an open craniotomy given its size and shape, said Power Rogers & Smith P.C. partner Larry R. Rogers Jr., who represented the estate.

“It was described as a bilobed aneurysm that had Mickey Mouse ears,” he said. “Most of them are like a balloon and so they have a very round shape. When you have an oddly shaped one, then they’re less susceptible to filling with coils.”

Lopes performed the procedure — which Rogers said typically takes one or two hours — over nearly four hours in May 2011. He spent most of that time trying to get the coils to stay in their desired place, Rogers said.

“So what he said he could do in reality he could not do, and he attempted to place coils in the aneurysm over a dozen times,” he said.

Physicians could not completely wake Horne up after the procedure.

A post-operative CT scan revealed his brain hemorrhaged during the surgery, Rogers said, and an expert retained in Horne’s case helped identify the blood’s source.

“The perforation [Lopes] caused was beyond the aneurysm,” Rogers said. “It was where the guide wire likely extended when he was trying to place the stents, and he did not identify the perforation during the procedure.”

Horne, who was 49 at the time, died two days after the procedure from pressure caused by the intracranial bleeding.

The defendants alleged Lopes encountered what is a common complication during the procedure, which Horne specifically requested to treat his aneurysm, Rogers said. They also contended Horne’s brain began to bleed spontaneously from anticoagulation therapy he received, Rogers said.

However, Horne’s estate contended the endovascular procedure should never have been an option for treatment.

“Surgical procedures are not something you pick off of a menu,” Rogers said.

Rogers said he also presented Lopes with a medical article he had authored detailing his experience with brain aneurysms in locations such as Horne’s. Lopes wrote in the article that the procedure was successful despite the patient dying from a ruptured aneurysm, he said.

Rogers said he presented the literature to Lopes, who confirmed the article was about Horne’s surgery and that Horne did not die from a ruptured aneurysm, as he wrote in the article.

“This was the actual case and they were lying in the literature, so that literature gets published and … begins to support what they’re doing when it’s false,” he said.

Hall Prangle & Schoonveld LLC partners Amy H. Kane and Aaron P. Ryan represented the defendants. Ryan declined to comment, and Kane did not return a comment request by publication.

The parties mediated their case in March before former Cook County chief circuit judge Donald P. O’Connell but didn’t reach a settling agreement until they got closer to trial. Cook County Associate Judge William Edward Gomolinski entered the order dismissing their case.

Although Horne’s family is still mourning his death, Rogers said, the settlement help his loved ones feel accountability has been served.

“They hope he will be careful so that nothing like this ever happens to another family,” he said.

The case is Jeanette Horne v. Rush University Medical Center, et al., 13 L 4581.


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