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$20 million settlement recommended for boy’s brain damage suit against Stroger

exteriors views Stroger Hospital. Story about Cook County now trying sell advertising space its properties. Thursday May 24 2012.

exteriors views of Stroger Hospital. Story about Cook County now trying to sell advertising space in its properties. Thursday, May 24, 2012. | Scott Stewart~Chicago Sun-Times.

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Updated: March 4, 2013 6:43AM

Cook County taxpayers would pay $20 million to the family of a 3-year-old boy who suffered serious brain damage after undergoing outpatient surgery at the main county hospital, under a proposed settlement the county board is expected vote on during next week’s regular meeting.

The boy’s family filed a medical malpractice lawsuit last year but now Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez’s office, which represents the county in such civil lawsuits, is recommending the settlement — one of the largest in the history of the county, according to county records and a source familiar with the case said.

Under the terms of the agreement, the county doesn’t admit liability.

The money will come from the county’s self-insurance fund, where money is set aside for such settlements, according to a source familiar with the litigation.

On Dec. 11, 2011, the 3-year-old boy underwent “elective outpatient” surgery for an undescended left testicle at Stroger Hospital, according to court documents and county sources familiar with the case.

While the child was in recovery it is believed he went without oxygen between 5 and 7 minutes — possibly longer — and he is now “profoundly” brain damaged, the boy’s family maintains, according to a county source.

According to the lawsuit, about 8:25 a.m. the boy went in to “cardiac arrest and…cardio pulmonary resuscitation (“CPR”) did not begin until 8:30 a.m.”

The lawsuit goes on to state that the boy “was without a pulse for a period of not less than fifteen minutes” and that he “received no assisted ventilation from the medical staff at [Cook County] until after he suffered cardiac arrest.”

Justine Francique, the boy’s mother, couldn’t be reached for comment. Her attorney declined comment until after the settlement is officially approved Tuesday.

According to the lawsuit, the child suffered “severe and permanent injuries” and will need ongoing treatment.

A spokesperson for the county’s health and hospital system had no comment on Friday. And Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle couldn’t be reached for comment.

This isn’t the only high-dollar settlement county commissioners will consider Tuesday.

The state’s attorney’s office also is recommending county commissioners spend $2.4 million to settle another medical negligence case, this one involving a one-time cancer patient from Rockford who sued over the quality of care she received at Stroger Hospital, according to county sources.

Wendy Cash, died at age 58, after being treated at Stroger Hospital, according to sources familiar with the case. The settlement will go to her estate.

An attorney handling the case couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

And yet another $1 million settlement is on the county finance agenda, though few details about that case were available early Friday evening.

The settlement proposals are scheduled for an initial vote in Tuesday’s county board finance committee meeting before advancing to the full board for a vote at the regular board meeting later in the day.

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