The Sacramento Bee reported this week on a new jury verdict in a birth injury lawsuit. As each Chicago birth injury lawyer at our firm has explained often, the verdicts in these cases are often higher than in other cases because of the long-term consequences of these particular injuries. Of course, each case is unique and decisions are made on an individual basis. However, children hurt at birth usually need long-term care, special equipment, special therapy, and often have advanced medical needs for decades. All of that has a cost that is reflected in any jury verdict if liability is found.
In this latest case, a $78.5 million verdict was handed down by a jury after finding that a child’s brain injury was caused by medical negligence. The child is now three years old. His family claimed that he has severe spastic quadriplegia as a result of errors made during his birth.
The case centers on the 2008 birth of the boy. The child’s mother was 36 weeks pregnant went she went to the hospital with signs of placental abruption. This is the separation of the placenta from the uterus wall-it occurs before a baby is delivered. The placenta is the organ that provides necessary nourishment to the fetus. In response to the issue the doctor performed an ultrasound when fetal monitoring was not conclusive in explaining the situation.
However, according to the lawsuit, the ultrasound was performed using outdated equipment that was not properly maintained. According to information presented during the trial, the ultrasound equipment was not sensitive enough to detect what was necessary. Amazingly, information indicated that the equipment had not even been serviced in ten years. The manual for the equipment indicated that annual maintenance was necessary to ensure the piece of equipment performed as necessary. Each Illinois birth injury lawyer at our firm understands that medical care providers are only as good as their equipment sometimes, and so proper maintenance of that equipment must be paramount.
As a result of using the faulty equipment the involved doctor did not detect a fetal heartbeat. That led him to tell the mother that the child had died. However, the child was not dead. It wasn’t until an hour and twenty minutes later that it was discovered that the child was actually alive. An emergency C-section was performed. However, the extreme delay in delivering the child had severe consequences-the baby was born with a brain injury.
Unfortunately, the doctor in this case maintained an obstinate attitude throughout the proceeding. The doctor maintained that the child was actually dead when the ultrasound was performed but that the boy “came back to life” 81 minutes later.
In reality, the plaintiff argued that the baby was not dead, but the poor ultrasound equipment reading led to the confusion. An actual ultrasound technician had to be called in from home to check the results. It was only then that the results were discovered to be incorrect, leading to the discovery that the child was still alive and the emergency delivery.
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