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$4.5M deal for wisdom tooth death

Friday, October 19, 2018
Chicago Daily law Bulletin
by Jordyn Reilland


A Cook County probate judge signed off on a $4.5 million settlement for a woman who died after an attempted wisdom tooth removal.

Cook County Circuit Judge John H. Ehrlich approved the agreement in July after a contested hearing to determine how the settlement would be distributed among the plaintiffs’ estate.

On Wednesday, Circuit Judge Karen O’Malley in the Probate Division gave the final approval.

Mary Tadros, 31, went to John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County in September 2011 to have her left lower wisdom tooth removed after an infection.

Tadros had a narrow airway due to a congenital vascular malformation on the right side of her mouth and both she and her father told doctors she could not be intubated for that reason.

Despite that information, which was noted in her pre-operative paperwork, hospital staff made an initial incision which caused significant bleeding.

Doctors then attempted to intubate Tadros with the use of a laryngoscope blade and caused further bleeding, according to her attorneys Todd A. Smith and Joseph W. Balesteri of Power Rogers & Smith.

Tadros ultimately suffered cardiopulmonary arrest and died later that day, according to court documents.

Over the course of the day Tadros gained 50 pounds due to the amount of blood and fluid pumped into her body through an IV.

A lawsuit against the county filed by her father, Wajh Tadros, in July 2013 alleged the anesthesia team was negligent in treating his daughter during her wisdom tooth removal.

In addition to the decision to use a laryngoscope blade, the lawsuit contended Tadros should have been seated upright during the procedure because when she laid flat her vascular malformation was more likely to swell.

Balesteri said the anesthesia team “blindly” passed a blade into Tadros’ mouth because at the angle she was laying it was nearly impossible to see her airway the way she was positioned without standing on boxes or a step stool, which was not done.

Smith said they could have performed a tracheostomy instead or had an ENT specialist available to access her airway if necessary.

The settlement agreement was initially reached in January 2017 however Tadros’ mother, Amal Habaibeh found out about its distribution terms and contested the proposed agreement.

The proposed settlement distribution allocated funds to her father and half siblings but left nothing to her mother, according to court documents.

Tadros was raised by her father after her mother left the family when she was 8 years old.

After a series of evidentiary hearings Habaibeh proposed she receive at least 35 percent of the settlement funds.

Ehrlich disagreed, finding her father’s comitment to his daughter “was and remains an exemplar of a loving father,” however her mother’s relationship with Tadros “was anything but admirable.”

In his July order he awarded 10 percent of the settlement funds to Habaibeh and the remainder to Tadros’ father and her siblings.

The county was represented by Assistant State’s Attorney Mary Jo Smerz. A spokesperson with the state’s attorney’s office could not be reached for comment.

The case is Wajh Tadros v. County of Cook, 13 L 8577.

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