Seven women are suing an obstetrician/gynecologist and his employer, Duly Health and Care, alleging the doctor cared for patients while drunk and, in some cases, committed medical and sexual battery.
Most of the lawsuits allege that Dr. Vernon Cannon was intoxicated while performing patient exams. One alleges he had an inappropriate sexual relationship with a patient. Another alleges he performed an irreversible sterilization procedure on a patient without the patient’s consent. And another lawsuit alleges sexual battery of a patient during an exam.
The lawsuits allege that Duly, formerly called DuPage Medical Group, was negligent in keeping Cannon employed and not supervising him adequately.
Duly did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday afternoon. Attempts to reach Cannon and his attorney were also not immediately successful.
State records show that Cannon’s medical license isn’t due to expire until July of this year, and he has no disciplinary record with the state medical board.
Chicago law firm Hurley McKenna & Mertz is representing the women, five of whom filed their lawsuits Tuesday and Wednesday in Cook County Circuit Court. One woman filed a lawsuit in August and another filed in 2020 in Cook County Circuit Court. The lawsuits are related to Cannons work in offices in Wheaton and Bartlett, attorneys said.
The first lawsuit, filed anonymously under the name Jane Doe in 2020, alleges Cannon sexually battered a patient during a visit in 2018.
In the lawsuits filed Wednesday, three of the women, Karin Stortz, Mary McKay and Maryann Bretana, allege that Cannon examined them while he appeared intoxicated, with one incident in March 2019 another in August 2019 and a third in 2017. Stortz and McKay allege that when they went to see Cannon for a routine prenatal checkup, he “smelled of alcohol.” Bretana alleges he was slurring his words during and using “altered, halting speech” during her appointment.
“I kind of minimized it,” Stortz said during a press conference Wednesday. She decided to come forward and take action after hearing about the woman who sued Cannon in 2020, alleging sexual battery. “I told myself, ‘You’re hormonal, you’re pregnant, you have anxiety, just let it go.’ But the truth is, my gut was right.”
The lawsuits allege that Duly had received multiple complaints from patients in 2018 and in January and July of 2019 that Cannon was slurring his words while talking with patients. But Duly, “did not address any of these Complaints in any meaningful way until October of 2019, at the earliest. At that time, for reasons that remain unclear to Plaintiff, Dr. Cannon was temporarily placed on leave,” the lawsuits allege.
Another lawsuit filed by an anonymous plaintiff Wednesday alleges that following a visit to Cannon in 2016, Cannon began texting her, seeking a sexual encounter. The patient ultimately met Cannon at a hotel in Schaumburg where the two had sex and Cannon left her hundreds of dollars afterward, the lawsuit alleges. The lawsuit alleges that Cannon “inflicted emotional distress” on the patient, and, “Given the well-known ethical rules promulgated by (the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists), and given the widely accepted risks posed by physician-patient relationships, VERNON CANNON, M.D. owed a duty to his patients, including JANE DOE, to refrain from engaging in any romantic or sexual relationships.”
In a fourth lawsuit filed Wednesday, Elizabeth O’Leary said she experienced a stillbirth in 2016, and when Cannon delivered the baby, he didn’t say anything to O’Leary or her husband or make eye contact with them.
“After the stillbirth, VERNON T. CANNON, M.D. did (not) make any effort to discuss the stillbirth, its cause, or potential future complications with either Plaintiff or her husband,” the lawsuit alleges. “Instead, VERNON T. CANNON, M.D. handed the baby to a nurse, turned around and left the room without any further communication with the Plaintiff or her husband.”
The woman alleges his behavior violated standards set forth by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and “negligently inflicted emotional distress” on her.
In one of the lawsuits filed last year, Ashly Barrett alleges that Cannon convinced her to undergo a bilateral tubal ligation on the day of her cesarean section in 2017. But instead of performing a tubal ligation, Cannon allegedly performed bilateral salpingectomies.
Barrett later sought to have her tubal ligation reversed only to discover that Cannon had performed bilateral salpingectomies, which cannot be reversed, according to the lawsuit.
When Barrett asked Cannon, through his staff, why he had done that procedure, she was told that when she “consented to one sterilization procedure she consented to them all,” according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuits all seek damages exceeding $50,000.