Jury awards $3 million to family of Arlington Heights woman in wrongful-death suit

A Cook County jury awarded $3 million to the family of a 35-year-old Arlington Heights woman who died after surgery to remove a benign uterine growth. However, in accordance with a settlement agreement between the parties, the family will receive $1 million, said defense attorney Brian T. Henry.

Mary Gerontakis, an Illinois Department of Transportation engineer, died after suffering complications during the operation.

Gerontakis' mother and cousin filed the wrongful=death lawsuit against Dr. Michelle Luthringshausen and WomanCare in 2015. According to the complaint, Luthringshausen "should have stopped the routine procedure to remove the growth, called a fibroid," when complications arose during the Aug. 7, 2013, operation.

Henry, of Pretzel & Stouffer, defended his client, saying, "Dr. Luthringshausen is one of the finest gynecological surgeons in the United States, and she had nothing to do with the death of this patient."

The complaint alleged "the doctor failed to respond to significant changes in her patient's blood pressure and heart rate for nearly 30 minutes during the operation." Gerontakis suffered oxygen deprivation and cardiac arrest, according to the complaint. She died the following day.

"This is an elective, nonlife-threatening procedure in which less than 1 percent have complications," the family's attorney, David Rashid, of Wise Morrissey of Chicago, said in a prepared statement.

The surgery in August marked the second such procedure the doctor performed on Gerontakis. The first took place in May 2013, but the fibroid grew back, Rashid said.

According to Henry, the case was settled per a "high/low agreement," a deal that sets minimums and maximums for monetary awards despite the jury's ruling.

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