Government Drops Appeal of $42M Birth Injury Verdict in Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

South Florida medical malpractice attorneys recognize obstetrics and gynecology as a medical practice area with higher-than-average rates of litigation. Malpractice in obstetrics and gynecology can result in catastrophic injuries and fatalities for both women and babies. A recent survey by Medscape revealed some of the top reasons for lawsuits against Ob/Gyns are:

  • Patient suffers an abnormal injury – 36 percent
  • Failure to diagnose – 22 percent
  • Failure to treat – 15 percent
  • Poor documentation of patient instruction and education – 5 percent
  • Improperly obtaining/ lack of informed consent – 4 percent
  • Failure to follow safety procedures – 3 percent
  • Errors in medication administration – 2 percentbirth injury lawyer

These usually involved a maternal or fetal death, failed tubal litigation, poor timing/ performance of a cesarean section, bowel perforation or shoulder dystocia. A recent case of a catastrophic injury suffered by a baby delivered by an Ob/Gyn at a federally-funded hospital was allegedly caused by the physician’s “unjustified and overly-vigorous use” of forceps during the birth of a child. The child reportedly now suffers from lifelong mental disabilities, and after a jury awarded the family $42 million for this severe brain injury, the federal government has withdrawn its appeal. 

Although it may seem strange to be suing the federal government for the mistakes of a doctor, it’s not all that uncommon. According to the American Hospital Association, of the 5,534 registered hospitals in the U.S. (those that meet AHA’s criteria), 956 are state and local government community hospitals and 209 are federal government hospitals. This is a low figure, as there are even more that aren’t registered by the AHA. It’s an important distinction, though, because these claims must be filed directly against the federal government, and these claims must follow the criteria of the Federal Tort Claims Act. They must also be filed in federal court, as opposed to state court. Speaking to an experienced medical malpractice attorney in Fort Myers can help you determine the type of hospital you are taking on and what procedure you must follow.

In the recent $42 million medical malpractice case out of Pennsylvania (believed to be the largest in the federal Middle District of Pennsylvania), a judge overseeing a bench trial found last year that the obstetrician in question violated the standard of care when he delivered the baby boy in 2012. After hearing all the evidence presented, the judge agreed with plaintiffs that the use of forceps was not medically necessary and that the physician misapplied them, violating the standard of care. The result of this excessive force resulted in skull fractures that spurred brain bleeding and destruction of the boy’s cerebellum, which in turn means he will suffer a lifetime of physical and intellectual disabilities because of those birth injuries.

Although tort reform advocates tend to hold up dollar figures in cases like this as an example of how our civil justice system is “out-of-control,” the reality is that is the financial burden these families and this individual will reasonably incur over the course of his life. In deciding not to pursue the appeal initially filed, the government conceded the appeal was without merit and the verdict was both just and appropriate.

The women’s health clinic, for its part, declined to issue a statement.

The boy’s family said they are please with the verdict and the close of the case, and look forward to securing the best care available for their son, who is now 6. He reportedly understands language, but is unable to express himself, cannot (and will not be able to learn to) read and write, is easily fatigued, prone to aggressive outbursts, will need to be confined to a motorized wheelchair as he ages and will likely need to be placed in an institution when he reaches adulthood, as his parents likely will be unable to continue caring for him by the time he’s in his 20s.

These kinds of cases are devastating, and it is important to have a skilled medical malpractice attorney who can help families pursue justice.

Contact the South Florida personal injury attorneys at David J. Halberg, P.A., Attorneys at Law, by calling toll-free at 1-877-425-2374. Serving West Palm Beach, Miami, Tampa, Orlando and Fort Myers/ Naples. There is no fee unless you win.

Additional Resources:

Feds end appeal of $41.6-million verdict in Chambersburg family’s birth-injury lawsuit, Feb. 3, 2018, By Amber South, Gannett

More Blog Entries:

Medical Malpractice Settlement for $2 Million After High School Senior’s Death, Jan. 12, 2018, Fort Myers Medical Malpractice Attorney Blog