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Mom of Tinley Park man paralyzed in Mokena bar fight sues Joliet area hospitals

Joseph P. Messina

Joseph P. Messina

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Updated: December 2, 2012 2:06PM



The mother of a Tinley Park man who was paralyzed after a fight outside a Mokena bar has filed a lawsuit against the hospitals and two doctors that treated her son.

Eric Bartels, 29, a single dad who was working on an MBA, has been blind and paralyzed since he was hurt in a 2009 fight with Joseph Messina of New Lenox.

Janet Bartels filed the lawsuit on her son’s behalf Tuesday in Cook County Circuit Court.

She claims the staff of Silver Cross Hospital, which was located in Joliet at the time, miscommunicated with the responders who brought Bartels to Silver Cross, and miscommunicated with staff at Provena Saint Joseph Medical Center in Joliet when he was transferred there, which delayed the treatment of his brain injury.

A spokeswoman for Silver Cross did not respond to requests for comment. Jan Ciccarelli, spokeswoman for Provena St. Joseph, said officials had not yet seen a copy of the lawsuit and declined to comment.

The suit claims the hospitals, both classified as Level II trauma centers, did not have an on-call neurosurgeon who could arrive within an hour, as required by Illinois law.

Staff at both hospitals — in particular, the doctors who treated Bartels — did not recognize that her son had a significant traumatic brain injury, and the resulting delay in diagnosis and treatment may have caused permanent brain injury, the suit claims.

The lawsuit seeks more than $50,000 on each of four counts.

Joseph Curcio, the attorney representing Bartels, declined to comment on the suit.

Messina, 24, is charged with aggravated battery in the July 2009 attack on Bartels, which prosecutors said happened outside the 191 South bar after a brief discussion between the men.

Messina is accused of punching Bartels as they were leaving the bar, causing Bartels to fracture his skull on the parking lot pavement and suffer a severe brain injury that left him paralyzed, blind and mute.

Three years later, Bartels’ mother said he still can’t see or speak. She cares for him in her home.

Messina’s bench trial, which was postponed while Will County prosecutors tried now-convicted family killer Christopher Vaughn this summer, is scheduled to resume Nov. 14 in Will County court.



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