Posted on Mar 16, 2006
Jury awards $7.5 million in 1999 child's death
BY JOHN ROSZKOWSKI
Darlene Muno remembers her son, Andrew, as a fun-loving, energetic kid.
He was an A student at Woodland Middle School who loved fishing, baseball card collecting and the Chicago Wolves hockey team.
On Dec. 14, 1999, Darlene Muno's life was irreparably changed when she took her 12-year-old son to Condell Medical Center in Libertyville for treatment of a cut he sustained after falling at his home. Andrew Muno later died on an operating room table.
A Lake County jury last month awarded a $7.5 million medical malpractice verdict to Andrew's parents, Darlene and Barton Muno, in their lawsuit against Dr. Andrew Kontrick of Lake Forest, who performed the surgery to repair the wound, and Dr. Dale Gordon of Libertyville, the anesthesiologist. Kontrick has since settled his portion of the judgment and Gordon plans to appeal.
Darlene Muno said while the jury verdict will not bring her son back, she believes it does show their son's death was preventable.
"This definitely does finally bring some closure to it," she said.
The Munos' lawsuit alleged the doctors prescribed an antibiotic the child was allergic to and then gave him anesthesia, even after it was evident the child was experiencing breathing problems. Shortly after surgery, the child died.
"We believe that both Dr. Kontrick and Dr. Gordon failed to recognize the child's developing respiratory distress and failed to treat it," said Michael Schostok, the Munos' attorney. Schostok said he believes it was the largest wrongful death verdict in Lake County's history.
Attorneys for the doctors say they do no believe the child's death was caused by negligence.
"I do believe Dr. Kontrick acted appropriately," said Kontrick's attorney Richard Clark. "It was obviously a very tragic and emotional case and I think those factors did affect the verdict."
Kontrick agreed to a $1 million settlement to avoid further litigation, Clark said.
Rodney VanAusdal, Gordon's attorney, said his client plans on appealing.
"I firmly believe that this child did not die because of anything Dr. Gordon did wrong, and to the contrary, he died in spite of everything Dr. Gordon did to save him," he said.
VanAusdal said a Lake County coroner's inquest ruled the death to be accidental and did not determine a precise cause.
Condell settled separately with the parents for $200,000.