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Cook County Jury Awards $7.9 Million to Eight Year-Old Boy

Late yesterday, a Cook County jury awarded $7.9 million to an 8 year-old Glenview boy who was rendered blind due to the negligence of his Chicago pediatrician, William H. Barrows, M.D. The verdict is believed to be the highest in a medical negligence case in Cook County resulting in blindness to a child. The trial took place before the Honorable Carol Pearce McCarthy.

Tommy Carroll was represented by the law firm of Corboy & Demetrio. The case arose out of the pediatrician's care for the child during his first year of life. During this time, the pediatrician examined the retina of both eyes on seven (7) separate occasions during 1993. On each occasion, he recorded that he did not find any abnormality. On November 17, 1993, the child was seen by the defendant pediatrician's partner, Donald K. Brown, M.D. The partner immediately diagnosed an abnormality in the retina of both eyes. This was subsequently diagnosed as a rare form of cancer referred to retinoblastoma. Due to the advanced stage of the cancer, the child lost both eyes and was rendered blind.

After the diagnosis, the family was told that this condition appears as a white reflection in the pupil on family photographs. The white reflection represented the tumor blocking that portion of the retina. Upon examining family photographs of the child, ten (10) separate photographs were shown identified as being taken during 1993 showing this white reflection. These photographs demonstrated that the tumor was present in both eyes and should have been visible to the pediatrician.

At trial, the firm called 15 witnesses and produced over 200 exhibits. The trial took place from January 17 to February 5, 2001. The defendant was represented by Ed Melia of Hickey, Melia, Kurfirst & Patterson, Chtd.

After the verdict, the firm stated:

    "In this case, the pediatrician had a duty to examine each retina to explore for the presence of abnormalities. Instead, this pediatrician looked for evidence of normal portions of the retina. No search was made for abnormalities. A treatable condition went unrecognized by the pediatrician. Obviously, this child's loss was unnecessary and maddening."

The case is entitled: Kristine Carroll, Mother and Next Friend of Thomas Carroll, III, a Minor v. William Barrows, M.D.; and William H. Barrows and Donald K. Brown, M.D., S.C., Cook County Court No.: 96 L 13562.

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