Total Verdicts and Settlements = Over $100 Million


Civil Rights & Medical Malpractice Verdicts And Settlements

Kathleen Zellner is the only attorney in the country to have won five multi-million dollar verdicts in less than a year. Since opening her firm in 1991, she has obtained over $100 million in verdicts and settlements for her clients, many of which set state and national records.  Some of the her results are as follows:



Plaintiff Kevin Fox was falsely arrested for his young daughter's murder. Zellner persuaded the State's Attorney to allow a private lab to test "inconclusive" saliva samples which excluded Kevin Fox with 100% certainty. Zellner successfully filed a civil rights case six weeks after Keven Fox's incarceration, and before the DNA exoneration, that survived all motions to dismiss. The jury awarded a verdict of $15.5 million. This verdict was reduced on appeal to $8.1 million but is still the highest of its kind per months of incarceration.


A suicide after hospital refused to admit. This case was rejected by three other law firms before Zellner's firm was retained. Award is the highest verdict in the nation for medical malpractice suicide (prior high $5,000,000). Award was reduced 50% to 6,524,000. 


Plaintiff Ryan Ferguson won a record civil rights verdict after being wrongfully convicted and spending almost 10 years in prison.  


Plaintiff Ray Spencer spent 20 years in prison when defendant police officers fabricated evidence against him to frame him for the sexual molestation of his two biological children and one stepchild. Zellner successfully presented evidence that police reports that went back 30 years were fabricated. At $9 million, this is the highest civil rights verdict in the State of Washington and the highest civil rights verdict involving an Alford plea in the United States. A JNOV was entered after the post-trial motions. The case is currently on appeal in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

$ 7,750,000

Kathleen Zellner settled Jerry Hobbs civil rights case for $7,750,000.00. Mr. Hobbs was incarcerated for 66 months. The largest civil rights settlement to date in Lake County. This is the largest pre-trial detainee settlement in the United States and in Illinois.


Settlement (Cook County). The city of Chicago paid this settlement on behalf of two police officers who failed to respond in a timely manner to four 911 calls. The decedent was murdered by her husband before the police arrived. James Montgomery and Richard Mallen were co-counsels with Ms. Zellner.


No Suit Filed. (Du Page Co.) Aug. 2002, male 25-week preemie was transferred to the University of Chicago Hospital. Allegedly, the infant had a 25% chance of having normal vision, with proper care of his retinopathy of prematurity, which was lost after treatment delays allowed the condition to progress. Baby is now totally blind. U of C is self-insured.


A Cook County jury awarded a 3-year-old $3 million dollars for a brachial plexus injury that occurred at birth resulting in partial paralysis of her right hand and arm.


Lawsuit charged that 3-week old patient suffered cardiac arrest in the E/R after erroneously receiving an injection of a cardiotoxic chemotherapy drug while being treated for an infection on March 5, 1996. Profound damage resulted. Paid by self-insured Cook County Hospital. This case was tried to a verdict in March 2000, plaintiff prevailed on appeal. Settlement represents the verdict amount plus $329,550 in accrued interest, during the appeal. At the time this was the highest verdict for a drug substitution error.


This settlement resulted from a suicide of a 46-year-old male who was allegedly prematurely released from a Chicago hospital.


Plaintiff, a 36-year-old female, died along with her unborn child when defendants failed to diagnose her placenta abruptio at 28 weeks of pregnancy.


This verdict was the largest sexual assault verdict in Illinois at the time. The victim was raped at work in the Chicago Bar Association Building which was managed by a management corporation. Ms. Zellner subpoenaed the rapist from prison to testify on plaintiff's behalf.


A three-week-old baby girl sufferred brain damage after doctors prescribed the wrong medication when the girl was brought 
to the hospital with a fever.


This verdict was the largest civil rights verdict in Illinois at the time for a prisoner injury. The prisoner lost his left eye as a result of the "deliberate indifference" of the physician in referring him to an ophthalmologist to reattach the prisoner's retina. The jury awarded $1 million dollars in compensatory damages and $1 million dollars in punitive damages.


A former fast-food restaurant employee with a long criminal record (including rape and an overturned quadruple murder conviction) fatally stabbed plaintiff, a 45-year-old female, during an armed robbery attempt.


Plaintiff claimed that at age 14 he was coerced into confessing to a 1986 murder after police were given his name by a co­defendant who bargained for a lighter sentence. He was imprisoned 15 years before DNA evidence cleared him. Paid by City of Chicago.


Verdict against obstetrician for the negligent infliction of emotional distress to mother during the delivery of her fifth child. This is a record verdict in Illinois for infliction of emotional distress by a doctor. 


Decedent, a 26 year old with Stage IIIA cervical cancer, was improperly diagnosed with the HPV virus at a federal clinic. She died IO months later in Stage IIIB.


A settlement with the City of Chicago for an excessive force case that resulted in the death of the Plaintiff. 


No Suit Filed (Du Page Co.). M-73 died after an artery was cut during his splenectomy. Paid ISMIE $500,000 each for two doctors.


Nov. 9, 1992, two physicians failed to treat plaintiffs cervical cancer when it was first diagnosed in Stage I, and allowed a three year lapse until the dis1:ase progressed to Stage: IV ($150,000 medical). Plaintiff, F-36, now has a life expectancy of 18 months. Paid: $500,000 by each physician.


A newborn male child died at one day old after defendants failed to perform a necessary C-section during labor/delivery. 


Death of a 73 year old from colon cancer. Defendant doctor delayed diagnosis for six months.


No Suit Filed. Death of a 51 year old who had bone cancer that was mistakenly diagnosed by an orthopedic surgeon as a hip problem requiring hip replacement surgery.


No Suit Filed. Plaintiff alleged that on April 11, 2000, defendant failed to perform a timely C-section despite repetitive and severe fetal heart rate decelerations--negligently permitting mother's labor to continue for 3-1/2 hours resulting in brain damage.


Estate alleged that defendant failed to properly treat patient's testicular cancer (chemotherapy underdosed), leading to his death July 28, 1999 at age 41. Paid ISMIE. 


A 51-year-old male died of hip osteosarcoma after defendant doctor failed to diagnose.


Feb 10, 1992 newborn female sustained erb's palsy from allegedly improper vaginal delivery after mother was in labor with footling breech presentation ($58,000 med.). Suit charges defendants failed to perform C-section. Paid by hospital for defendant doctors.


Plaintiff: a 58-year-old female, lost her left leg after defendant doctor negligently performed a femoral popliteal bypass when she only needed axillofemoral bypass.


No Suit Filed. Below knee amputation of 63 year old. Failure to diagnose blood clot.


Minor plaintiff sustained a brachial plexus injury at birth. He has some movement in his shoulder, arm and three of his fingers.


Defendant doctor failed to take plaintiff, a 42-year-old female, into surgery when plaintiff started bleeding after giving birth. This resulted in moderate brain damage.


No Suit Filed. Wrongful death case involving death of an 8 year old with asthma.


No Suit Filed. Sexual assault of 12 year old Downs Syndrome male by school bus driver.


Plaintiff: a 12-year-old male, died of infection one month after defendants performed a Ross-Konno procedure to correct congential heart defects, when plaintiff had only consented to a Ross procedure.


12-year-old child died of infection after defendant doctor performed a Ross-Konno procedure, when the child's mother only consented to a Ross procedure.


Defendant failed to diagnose pre-eclampsia of F-27 resulting in stillbirth of male fetus on Oct. 10, 1991. Mother was discharged from the hospital by nurse on Oct. 7, 1991 without being examined by a physician. The doctor failed to diagnose distress from the fetal monitor strip. Paid: $200,000 by insurance company for hospital; $350,000 by Insurance for doctor.


Plaintiff, a 51-year-old male, suffered heart damage when a Chicago ambulance took him to the closest hospital instead of to Northwestern Hospital, where he could have received a cardiac catheterization.


December 20, 1999 homeless 32-year-old male died of a severe nosebleed when a psuedoaneurysm of his left carotid artery ruptured while he was a patient at an Illinois Hospital. The pseudoaneurysm of his left carotid artery had been caused by a stab wound to the eye suffered one week earlier during a dispute with his girlfriend, but had not been detected during the patient's initial hospitalization and eye removal surgery. He had returned to the hospital after suffering a series of nosebleeds. Embolization was planned, but had not been done because certain tests were incomplete ($12,000 medl. expense). 


Allegedly, two month delay in diagnosis of tuberculous meningitis left 6-month old male with mild speech impairment ($6,223 medl. expense). Paid by self-insured Loyola University Medical Center.


Estate charges that defendant negligently failed to perform an appropriate cardiac work-up on a 51-year-old female after she was presented to ambulatory care center. Consequently, her impending myocardial infarction went undetected, and resulted in her death. Paid CNA.


No Suit Filed. Dec. 19, 2000 59-year-old female patient struck her head when she slipped/fell on the bathroom floor. While being taken for x-rays, she fell off the gurney, again striking her head. Patient lapsed into a coma and died 2 weeks later due to a subdural hematoma ($30,000 medl. expense; no LT claimed ). Hospital and Rehabilitation Institute each contributed $250,000 to the settlement.


Dec 16, 1991, female newborn died two hours after birth from syphilis. Baby's mother was diagnosed with syphilis during pregnancy. Defendant physician, however, failed to inform and treat mother for the disease.


No Suit Filed. (Du Page Co.). April 23, 1994, defendant physician delivered twins born at 30 weeks gestation. One twin was stillborn, and plaintiff, the surviving twin, suffered brain damage and cerebral palsy ($175,000 medical) allegedly from hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy. Plaintiff alleged that a more timely delivery would have resulted in no brain injury, and that physician failed to diagnose a twin pregnancy and manage mother accordingly. Defendant claimed brain damage was due entirely to prematurity.


Death of 7 month old male of pneumonitis. Pediatrician misdiagnosed condition of interstitial pneumonitis as the flu. Baby was in pediatrician's office 4 days before his death. As baby's condition worsened, mother called pediatritian's office requesting to take infant to hospital. Mother was advised by nursing staff of doctor's office to wait until prescribed antibiotics took effect. Mother discovered infant in his crib on Saturday afternoon, April 14, 1995. He had already expired. 


Brachial plexus injury. Physician denied that there was a shoulder dystocia even though pediatrician described dystocia.


Decedent, a 5 month old, was released after 6 hours in hospital emergency room. Child succumbed to respiratory complications. The defense contended that this was a SIDS death. 


An inmate deliberate indifference medical malpractice case for partial loss of vision in one eye. 


Settlement against the City of Chicago for excessive force. 


Plaintiff, a minor, suffered a brachial plexus injury after defendant doctor delivered her vaginally when she should have been delivered via C-section. 


Plaintiff had an extra disc which resulted in her surgeon operating at the wrong level, creating a need for a second surgery.


A 31-year-old female died of cervical cancer after defendant doctor failed to perform a biopsy despite abnormal pap smears.


Plaintiff, a 12-year-old girl, was sexually molested by her uncle over a two-year period beginning in 1995 ($5,000 medical). Paid by uninsured defendant.


Plaintiff was dropped on floor at hospital after c-section delivery. Fall aggravated pre-existing condition of cervical spondylosis necessitating a laminectomy.