Massive settlement awarded in birth injury case

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Waiting for the birth of a child is the most exciting occasion for Ohio mothers and fathers. However, when a medical error occurs, those hopes and dreams of parenthood can be quickly dashed.

This was the case for an east coast family and as a result, they have received a $55 million award from Johns Hopkins and associated institutions. The settlement for their child’s birth injury case has stunned the state’s medical community. The award is among the largest in state history associated with medical malpractice, according to reports.

The family’s ordeal began in 2010, when the woman’s attempt at home birth with a midwife took a turn for the worse. The woman was rushed to the hospital for an emergency Caesarean section, but she waited for more than two hours after arriving for the procedure to start. Physicians, nurses and surgeons waited entirely too long to begin the procedure, according to the suit, which claimed that the hospital staff’s negligence cost the boy his mental and physical faculties.

As a result of the medical staff’s error, the now 2-year-old boy is permanently mentally and physically disabled. Preliminary tests performed prior to the boy’s birth did not indicate any apparent health concerns. The family says that his afflictions resulted directly from bad decision-making on the part of the Johns Hopkins medical staff.

The boy developed cerebral palsy and a seizure disorder because of oxygen deprivation during delivery, according to the terms of the suit.

The jury awarded the family $25 million for future medical expenses and a life-long medical care plan. An additional $4 million was dispensed to make up for lost earnings, and $26 million was awarded to compensate for non-economic hardship and emotional distress. Although the jury determined that the family should receive $26 million for their suffering, the state cap on medical malpractice awards limited the actual amount to about $600,000, according to law experts.

The money will be placed into a trust for the child’s future needs, according to the couple’s attorney. The money will be used to pay for in-home care, and it will also permit the boy’s father to stay home and provide extra assistance. The family will also be able to build a one-story home that will accommodate their son’s mobility issues.

Source: The Baltimore Sun, “Jury awards Waverly family $55 million in Hopkins malpractice case,” Yvonne Wegner & Kevin Rector, June 26, 2012