ROCKFORD — A jury decided Friday that OSF HealthCare was not negligent in its vetting of a neurosurgeon accused of operating on the wrong side of a Poplar Grove woman's spine.
The jury deliberated for one hour and 20 minutes before reaching its verdict.
The decision came after the ninth day of a trial that pitted OSF against Mary Friday, the woman who claimed Dr. Denise Crute had performed surgery on the wrong side of her spine in 2007 at OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center.
Mary Friday and her husband, Dennis Friday, filed suit in October 2009, alleging OSF had been negligent in approving credentials for Crute to operate on patients at the hospital. Crute, who relinquished her medical license in Colorado before moving back to Illinois, was not named as a defendant in the suit.
“We’re satisfied with the verdict. Nobody wins when litigation goes on a long time,” Jerrod Barenbaum, one of OSF's attorneys, said after jurors left the courtroom. “It’s gratifying to have the credentialing process at Saint Anthony’s vindicated.”
During closing arguments, the Fridays' attorney, Gregory Barrett, said OSF engaged in a “cover-up” after hiring an out-of-state surgeon with a tarnished record because the hospital needed a neurosurgeon. He had asked the jury to award the Fridays $6 million to $10 million in damages.
The Colorado State Board of Medical Examiners leveled 17 counts of unprofessional and substandard conduct against Crute in 2005 over allegations that included wrong-side surgeries and falsifying medical documents. Crute admitted to some of the allegations and agreed to stop practicing medicine in that state. She was hired by OSF in June 2006 after re-activating her Illinois medical license.
"OSF hired, credentialed and privileged a low-quality physician," Barrett said during closing arguments. "She wasn’t even credentialed yet and she’s in the operating room on temporary privileges.”
Barrett said they are considering an appeal. He said regardless of the verdict in favor of OSF, "The credentialing of Dr. Crute has been exposed to the public."
Barenbaum said during closings that the theme of this case is “accusations without evidence.”
“The evidence is not there to support virtually the entire case that has been presented to you,” he said. “How many times did you hear ‘17 counts?’ What actually had validity? Four of these things. (The other 13 are) just accusations. There’s no evidence or proof of them.”
He said there was no proof that Crute's surgery caused the pain and numbness that Friday said she experienced in her right leg and foot. He said Friday underwent a host of surgeries dating back to the 1970s and listed several medical issues with which she had been previously diagnosed.
Kristen Zambo: 815-987-1339; email@example.com; @KristenZambo