Birth injury lawsuit leads to $74 million jury award

Posted on behalf of Stewart Bell, PLLC on Apr 29, 2012 in Medical Malpractice

The most serious medical malpractice stories about birth injury cases often involve the wrongful death of a fetus or infant, a mother or both. Mere words, in fact, are not capable of adequately expressing the enormity of such losses or their effect on those still living.

While these are truly devastating and tragic cases, the largest settlements and jury awards in the medical negligence lawsuits tend to come in cases where infants have suffered injuries that require a lifetime of care. This is true in most West Virginia birth injury cases, and it is true in other states as well.

A few weeks ago in California, a jury of eight women and four men awarded the parents of a baby girl who was born with cerebral palsy more than $74 million in damages.

The 12-member jury deliberated for two days before finding "it was more likely than not," the physician had committed medical malpractice. Jurors acknowledged that this was an emotionally charged and challenging case, but felt the evidence introduced at trial justified their decision to award the amount they did.

At trial, the plaintiffs' attorney presented jurors with evidence that the doctor did nothing to speed up the delivery process or properly examine the cord blood even though monitors were showing the baby's heart rate to be wildly irregular. As a result, he argued, the girl's brain was deprived of oxygen during the delivery process, which caused her to develop cerebral palsy.

While the jury agreed -- and even though the lifetime costs of caring for a child with cerebral palsy can be astronomical -- lawyers involved in this birth injury lawsuit say it's likely the judge will exercise his discretion to reduce the jury award in this instance. The defense attorney for the physician also said he plans to file an appeal.

Source:, "Parents awarded $74 million in malpractice lawsuit against doctor," Nick Wilson, April 21, 2012

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