August 2019

Like you, everyone at Lane & Lane is still reeling over the recent mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton. If you have family ties or personal connections to any of the victims, know that we are deeply sorry for your loss and will keep you and your loved ones in our thoughts and prayers.

- Steve, Scott, Mark and the entire Lane & Lane family
What is your favorite Stressbuster?
Recently a friend said to me, “Your work has to be extremely stressful. How do you manage it?” I told her I unwind in two ways. The first is with music -- seeing live music and playing.

When I was 19 and a summer camp counselor, I asked one of my counselor friends if I could borrow his guitar and if he would teach me a few things to get started. I was hooked. After the summer I rented a guitar and practiced during the school year. When I returned to camp I became a “campfire" guy who played chords and sang.

Fast forward through my 20s, 30s and early 40s. As an attorney, husband and father of three boys, I was too busy to play so my guitar sat in its case, untouched. But eight years ago, to alleviate stress, I started playing again. For the past two years, I’ve been taking lessons and learning to play lead guitar. A few times I've joined local house bands on stage at a jam night. I have a "band," too, and every month we jam at my house. At some point we started thinking about naming the group. Then, about a year ago, our name came naturally. We realized that after we'd play a song, we'd look at each other and say, "That was pretty good! But we were a little off." After this happened too many times to count, someone said that should be our name. So, that’s when A Little Off was born.

The other way I relax is by spending time with my family. Over the years I've been fortunate to attend almost all of my three sons' baseball, basketball and volleyball games. I watch, cheer, hold my breath, ignore my phone (and my sometimes-aching back - are any bleachers comfortable?), and then I take part in our post-game “briefing” in the car ride home and at the dinner table. I love it.

In comparison to the physical and emotional challenges our clients face, my life is not stressful. But when you have the responsibility of handling personal injury cases, of pursuing justice day after day for the injured and their families, the pressure weighs on you. So I consider myself fortunate to have two meaningful ways of decompressing. It's enabled me to stay on top of my professional game for my clients' sake. 

This month we're featuring:

  • The case about a child whose life was forever changed due to paramedic negligence
  • Back-to-School Safety Measures
  • How to make a Family Emergency Plan
  • Upcoming Chicago-area events

We hope you've had a great summer. Enjoy the rest of it! If there is anything our Lane & Lane team can do to help you, your family, friends or colleagues, please call or email us. 
Mark Brown
312-332-1400 - office
The Mismanagement of a Child's Heat Stroke
It was a hot, humid July day when 6-year-old Laura suffered a seizure at the park district day camp she was attending. When the village’s paramedics and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) arrived, Laura was lying on the ground, seizing. They relayed information about her condition via telemetry communications to a nurse at the nearby hospital and recorded that Laura’s temperature was “warm.” 

The paramedics were trained to manage seizures by giving the patient oxygen, giving medications such as valium or, with a febrile seizure (a convulsion caused by a spike in body temperature), cooling the patient by removing any clothing and putting cool water on the neck. But after receiving instructions from the hospital’s telemetry nurse, they treated Laura’s seizures only by administering oxygen and intravenous valium. The valium had no effect on Laura’s hyperthermia or seizures, but the paramedics and EMTs, consulting with the hospital’s telemetry nurse, continued to give her more and more doses of valium, even though there had been no response to the medication. 

About 19 minutes after their arrival at the camp, the paramedics and EMTs left the camp and transported Laura to the nearby emergency room. They arrived approximately seven minutes later. By that time Laura had a temperature of 106.5 degrees. Several hours after she was admitted, she was transported to another hospital where she remained for several weeks. During these hospitalizations it became evident that Laura’s heat stroke had been tragically mismanaged -- first by the day camp she was attending, then by the paramedics and emergency room staff who attended to her. As a result, she suffered severe and irreversible brain damage. Years of intensive rehabilitation brought Laura further back than her doctors had imagined possible, but she remains completely disabled and dependent upon others for all activities of daily living.

Details of the Case
We alleged that the treatment and lack of treatment Laura received from the park district camp staff, the village’s paramedics and the EMTs represented willful and wanton misconduct that caused her to suffer prolonged seizure activity, extensive and permanent brain damage. We sought damages for the catastrophic and lifelong personal injuries, disabilities and economic losses sustained by Laura and her parents.

In response, the park district and village filed Motions for Summary Judgment. They asserted that the park district and camp staff were immune from liability and the village paramedics and hospital telemetry nurse never made a diagnosis of Laura’s fever and hyperthermia, and so were only liable for their conduct and omissions related to her seizures .They further argued that the park district and village were immune from liability under the Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act; that the paramedics’ and EMTs’ treatment of Laura’s seizures complied with Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs); and that if the Emergency Medical Services Systems Act was found to apply to Laura’s fever and hyperthermia, the facts did not demonstrate willful and wanton misconduct, which would mean the village was immune from liability. Earlier, an Illinois statute which had granted a blanket immunity for local governmental entities had been amended to eliminate their blanket immunity for all misconduct, and instead, provided immunity only for negligent misconduct, but the amendment did not take effect until two weeks after Laura’s injury. The trial court granted the Village’s motion, and we appealed that decision to the Illinois Appellate and Supreme Courts, but, because the new statute had not taken effect at the time Laura was injured, the trial court’s decision to dismiss the Village was allowed to stand.  

We then refocused our attention to the case against the Village and its paramedics. At the hearing, the judge again sided with the Village and granted their motion. Again we appealed the court’s decision and this time, the Appellate Court reversed the dismissal, and we entered into a mediation with the Village and Hospital defendants.

At mediation, we set forth the case we would present if the case went to trial. We disclosed several expert opinions. First, a licensed paramedic testified that the standard of care required the paramedics to assess and reassess Laura’s signs and symptoms and then develop a treatment plan based upon their findings. He stated that there was a conscious disregard of abnormal and dangerously extreme hyperthermic skin signs, providing inadequate and incorrect management of Laura’s care. Conscious disregard of a known risk is considered to be “willful and wanton” under Illinois law, and if proven, would have been sufficient to have gotten past the statutory immunity that was provided to the village’s paramedics.

Next, a neurologist testified that by not addressing Laura’s temperature, and by delaying transporting her to the hospital, the paramedics breached the standard of care for the community and the mismanagement of Laura’s case was a proximate cause of the injury she sustained. 

In addition, a nurse opined that the standard of care for heat stroke required that patients must be cooled and transported expeditiously, which Laura was not. Even assuming that treatment with valium was appropriate, she said, it would not take the place of the cooling measure, and it would have been easy to treat the hyperthermia quickly.  

We successfully demonstrated that, despite their knowledge and training that hyperthermia and fever could cause seizures, and lead a seizing patient to suffer brain damage and/or death, and despite having the equipment, materials and supplies available to manage Laura’s temperature, that neither the paramedics nor the hospital’s telemetry staff took any measures to control her hyperthermia or fever at the day camp or during transport to the hospital. After thirteen years of litigation in the trial, Appellate and Supreme Courts, we were successful in settling Laura’s case for a confidential settlement which has provided Laura and her family funding to provide a completely re-designed and remodeled home and access to specialized therapy and care to accommodate Laura’s needs. 
Laura's Life After the Injury
When Laura turned 22, she was no longer eligible to attend school. That's when her parents discovered Arts of Life, an organization dedicated to providing artists with disabilities a shared space to practice and develop their creativity. Laura's mom had no idea if it would be a good fit for Laura, who at the time struggled with transitions.

"When we arrived, Laura was quiet, taking it all in," Sue recalls. "Everyone was so welcoming to her. And once Laura's aide figured out how to attach a brush to Laura's hand, she was able to paint on her own." You can learn more about Laura's work and view her portfolio here.

Today, at 28, Laura is living as full a life as possible. In addition to painting -- she is currently experimenting with painting mailboxes -- Laura participates in a Center for Enriched Living program that includes swimming, cooking, yoga, shopping, trips to the library, parks, zoos, horseback riding and more. She also spends a lot of time with her family, which includes three older brothers, nieces and nephews.
Back-to-School Safety Measures
It's back-to-school season. If you have school-aged children, you probably have a laundry list of supplies or equipment to buy, and for weeks have been hammered with back-to-school marketing ads (and can't walk into a grocery store without seeing displays of Halloween candy). But while you’re working on checking off your list, don’t forget to talk about proper safety measures with your children. Here are a few key points to cover:
  • Tell walkers to always use sidewalks when available, but if they’re on a street with no sidewalks, to walk facing traffic and to look both ways when crossing a street.

  • When biking, make sure your kids know the rules of the road, and to ride on the right side of the road, with traffic, in a single file line. Also make sure they walk their bikes across streets and wear a helmet.

  • If your kids ride the bus, make sure they know how to safely get on and off it, and how to cross in front of it if they need to.

  • If you drive your kids to school, obey school zone speed limits and follow your school's drop-off procedures.

And no matter how your kids travel to and from school, remind them to stay alert and avoid distractions (no cell phone talking or texting).

Finally, remember to make sure your kids' backpacks are safe and not overloaded. They should have wide straps, proper padding in the back and shoulders, and weigh no more than 10-15% of a child’s body weight.
Does your family have an Emergency Plan?
No one wants to think about preparing for an emergency, but just as businesses have disaster recovery plans, your family should have one, too.

What typically comes to mind is having non-perishable food, safety supplies and first-aid kits on hand. But proper proper preparedness goes far beyond that. 

Lay Out A Communication Plan
Make a list of emergency contacts, family members, and friends, and give every family member a copy. Load all those numbers in everyone’s cell phones as well. Everyone should know who to contact if you get separated during an emergency. Make sure someone can be contacted via an alternative method if phone lines are out or cell phones are dead.

Set Up An Evacuation Plan
Set up a designated meeting place where everyone should go in the event of an emergency. Have an alternate location to meet at if disaster strikes while the kids are somewhere else. Make sure everyone knows how to safely exit the home, and what to do to help pets and anyone who needs special assistance, such as elderly family members. Once you have your plan, practice it. Your kids may laugh about it but insist on a drill once or twice each year (just like they have at school) to ensure everyone knows what to do and where to go.

Update your plan as needed, keep your emergency kit and supplies up to date (including fire extinguishers), and check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors regularly.
Chicago Women's Funny Festival features 100 women performing stand-up, improv, burlesque and musical comedy. August 22-25.

Wizard World Chicago is a convention dedicated to comic books, science fiction, fantasy, anime and more. August 22-25. Rosemont.

Midnight Circus features a troupe of world-class circus performers that perform for a 9-week tour in different parks in Chicago. Begins August 24.

KidzBop is a high energy, kid-friendly concert featuring today's hottest pop hits for all ages. Tinley Park. August 25.

41st Annual Chicago Jazz Festival in Millennium Park, August 29-September 1.

North Coast Music Festival is an all-ages music event ranging from hip-hop to indie rock. Northerly Island. August 30-31.

African Festival of the Arts celebrates African art, crafts, drumming, food and entertainment. Washington Park. August 30-September 2.

Taste of Polonia features 35 bands, food, beer, vendors and carnival rides. Jefferson Park. August 30-September 2.

Live on the Lake! features live music in the beer garden at Navy Pier. Free. September 1-2.

The Band's Visit is a Tony Award-winning musical at Cadillac Palace Theatre. Runs September 3-15. Recommended for 12+.

Stars of Lyric Opera at Millennium Park features singing and orchestral music. Free. September 6.

Fiestas Patrias - Festival de la Villita features authentic Mexican cuisine, music, artisans and carnival rides. Free. September 6-8.
Spring Awakening is a rock musical. Waukegan. September 6-28.

Ukrainian Village Fest offers folk dancers, music, food, beer, wine and a kids' area. September 7-8.

Chicago Bourbon & Barbecue Fest features two music stages, 9 barbecue kitchens, a bourbon tasting pavilion and vendors. $5 donation. September 7-8.

Revolutionary War Reenactment and Grand Encampment at Cantigny Park in Wheaton. September 7-8.

Movies in the Parks brings big-screen entertainment to local parks. Watch classics to family-friendly box office favorites from recent years. Weather may impact showings. September 7-14.

DeKalb Kite Fest features giant inflatable kites, dancing kits, free kite making and more. September 8. Free except parking.

Wine Riot includes unlimited tastes of hundreds of wines at Revel Fulton Market. For 21+. September 14.

Dessert Fest includes dessert tastings, interactive games, entertainment and access to some of the animal areas at Lincoln Park Zoo. September 14.

The Classic Auto Show features 600 classics ranging from muscle cars to rare imports, celebrity talks, and 200 vendors. Rosemont Convention Center. September 14-15.

Ravenswood Art Walk features 300 artists in tents and shops at the same time as the RAW Street Fest with music stages, food trucks, a beer garden, artists and kids' activities. Donation. September 14-15.

Chicago Artisan Market at Morgan Manufacturing features 100 independent vendors of food, fashion, art and home goods. September 22.
If you or someone you care about has been injured by someone else's negligence or fault,
and you're ready to take action to obtain justice - the full, fair and complete compensation you deserve - please contact our Chicago-based personal injury law firm today.
Questions? Call us at 312-332-1400 or contact us .