Philadelphia Family Receives $42.9 Million Medical Malpractice Award for Premature Birth

A jury has awarded a Philadelphia family a $42.9 million medical malpractice award after their son was born prematurely and suffered from a multitude of complications after his birth in July 2007.

The family sued the doctors and hospital where their son was born, alleging that the “complications suffered by their child due to extreme premature birth were the result of negligence” on the part of the doctors who treated the mother and the baby, according to a Dec. 24 story in The Legal Intelligencer.

The parents, Ebony Harris and Roy Fortson, filed the lawsuit on behalf of their son, Phinees Fortson, who was born July 5, 2007 after being in his mother’s womb for about 25 weeks, compared to a normal gestation of 38 to 42 weeks.

“According to the plaintiffs’ court papers, doctors treating the child’s mother failed to admit her to the hospital in a timely fashion and failed to administer IV steroids that would have protected her baby’s brain and respiratory development,” the story reported. The child suffered “multiple physical and cognitive impairments” due to the premature birth and from the inadequate care he and the mother were given by the doctors, according to the story.

The jury’s award in the case, which was heard in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, will cover the boy’s future medical expenses for a variety of related conditions, including mental retardation, blindness, spastic quadriparesis, quadriparesis cerebral palsy, gastroesophageal reflux and a complex feeding disorder, the story reported.

The family had filed suit against Dr. Doris Chou, Dr. Kwandaa Roberts, Chestnut Hill Hospital and the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP). Chou, who was an employee of HUP when she saw Harris in Chestnut Hill Hospital’s department of maternal fetal medicine, was found 100 percent negligent in the case by the jury, according to the report. Roberts was found not to be negligent.

Harris had been examined in March 2007 at Chestnut Hill Hospital while she was pregnant with the baby and had undergone ultrasound examinations and pregnancy management in the facility.

About four months later, on July 2, 2007, she returned to the hospital with complaints of pelvic pressure and was seen by Chou, who noted that the patient’s cervix had shortened to 1.13 centimeters. “During that ultrasound examination, Chou discovered an ‘excessive accumulation’ of amniotic fluid within the amniotic sac causing uterine distention, according to the plaintiffs’ papers, creating a high risk for pre-term birth,” The Legal Intelligencer reported.

She was then monitored by Roberts for almost four hours and was then discharged to return home on pelvic rest and modified bed rest, the story stated. Two days later, late in the evening of July 4, 2007, Harris called her doctor to report frequent contractions, according to the story. The baby was born a day later through an emergency C-section, and after his birth, he was diagnosed with seizures and a brain hemorrhage, the story continued. “According to Chou and HUP’s defense papers, there was no finding in Chou’s July 2 examination of Harris that delivery was imminent.”

This case is an example of the kinds of medical malpractice and birth injury cases that occur regularly across the United States to families in every walk of life when doctors don’t take every step to protect and monitor their patients through difficult and life-threatening procedures.

We here at MyPhillyLawyer deal with these kinds of cases regularly and we stand ready to assist you with your legal case if you or a loved one is ever seriously injured in a birth injury case anywhere in the United States. We pledge to make sure that your child gets the proper medical care needed to maximize the child’s potential from that point forward. These kinds of cases happen on a regular basis, but they can be fought by legal teams that are prepared to battle for their clients’ rights all along the way to a fair settlement or to a just verdict.

Call MyPhillyLawyer at 215-227-2727 or toll-free at 1-866-920-0352 anytime and our experienced, compassionate, aggressive team of attorneys and support staff will be there for you and your family every step of the way as we manage your case through the legal system.

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