A Cook County Circuit Court jury has awarded the family of a deceased Vietnam veteran $7 million in a wrongful death case. The verdict was reached late on Wednesday, December 12.
64-year-old Patrick Stein was a Vietnam veteran living in Matteson. Due to the trauma of undergoing an ambush on his unit during the war, and the many deaths he witnessed from two tours of duty, he suffered from PTSD for years. During the summer of 2014, his family began to notice a worsening of symptoms, including confusion, paranoia and delusions. It was at that time he first became a psychiatric patient at Edward Hines Veterans Affairs hospital, prior to the event which formed the basis of the wrongful death case.
The lawsuit filed in May of 2015 by Stein's family stems from an incident that took place in 2014, during which he climbed out of the back of a moving ambulance. The ambulance was travelling at approximately 30-35 miles per hour, and Mr. Stein suffered multiple severe injuries, including fractures of the ribs and head. He was pronounced dead at Loyola Medical Center.
Olympia Fields Hospital as well as Kurtz ambulance service were both named as defendants. It is believed that nurses at the hospital who were aware of the patient's psychiatric background did not inform the ambulance driver or crew of his mental state. En route to the hospital with the patient, the ambulance driver got lost and briefly stopped the ambulance. Stein was able to unbuckle the gurney straps holding him down and remove an oxygen tube from his nose prior to exiting the vehicle, which had already begun moving again. His attorney believes that he was suffering from confusion brought on by PTSD at the time of his death.