Chester County Family Awarded $32.8 Million Verdict for Daughter’s Birth Injury
By Dean I. Weitzman, Esq. on January 24th, 2014
The family of a four-year-old Chester County girl has won a $32.8 million jury verdict against Phoenixville Hospital after the girl was born in 2009 with severe medical complications caused when two nurses didn’t call for help quickly enough when the baby’s heart rate dropped precipitously just before her birth.
The lawsuit, filed by the girl’s mother, Leslie Proffitt of North Coventry Township, Chester County, was filed on behalf of the child, Lillian Marie Ciechoski, who was born on Nov. 14, 2009, according to a Jan. 22 story in The Pottstown Mercury.
As the baby’s mother went into labor, two nurses noticed that the baby’s heart rate had “dropped significantly, from about 150 beats per minutes, which is normal, to 60 beats per minute,” the story reported. The family’s attorney said it was “likely that the heart rate dropped because oxygen to the baby’s brain had been blocked by a kink in its umbilical cord.”
Yet despite seeing the heart rate drop on a special monitor, the two nurses assisting with the birth, Christine Winter and Lana Jones-Sandy, “did not tell Proffitt’s OB-GYN, Dr. Amy Cadieux, about the change,” the story states. That led to a delay in preparations for an emergency Cesarean section delivery, which resulted in the infant suffering from brain damage from a lack of adequate oxygen, the story continued. The baby was delivered some 20 minutes after the reduced heart rate was detected.
Due to her birth injuries, the child suffers from spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, according to The Mercury report. The girl has spasms in her legs and arms, has difficulty controlling her neck, speaks very little, and has trouble walking, the story states.
The jury’s verdict includes $31 million for her future medical expenses, and $1 million for past and future non-economic damages, the story reported. She was also awarded $800,000 for future lost earning capacity. The award will allow her family to provide the specialized services and treatments she will require for the rest of her life.
This was a just and fair verdict, providing the long-term needed funds for this family to care for their severely-injured daughter and give her the best chance possible to live her life. This award is in contrast to other awards, such as the recent case of a California girl whose family received a miniscule and completely unfair settlement of $265,000 after she died of undiagnosed pneumonia after the doctor in the urgent care center failed to adequately evaluate her worsening condition. That small settlement was limited by arbitrary award limits established in that state.
There’s something else notable about this large verdict in the Chester County case. “The $32.8 million awarded by the jury is thought to be among the largest ever awarded in Chester County, which has a reputation as a jurisdiction not very hospitable to medical malpractice cases,” The Mercury reported. “It is similar to the $78.5 million verdict handed down by a Philadelphia jury against Pottstown Memorial Medical Center in 2012 for a similarly delayed delivery of a baby who suffered brain damage.”
That’s a very interesting development for prospective plaintiffs who are seeking damages for catastrophic medical malpractice injuries in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In the past, large verdicts like these were typically only awarded by juries in Philadelphia, where such amounts don’t cause juries to balk, but these recent cases are showing that those old patterns are changing. For plaintiffs, this is a positive sign in counties including Chester, Montgomery and Bucks in Pennsylvania in recent years.
It’s a trend that we’re seeing locally and it is evidence that victims of severe medical malpractice who have suffered catastrophic injuries are able to win significant and fair verdicts when the evidence is clear and convincing – no matter where in the Commonwealth that the case is heard. It means that plaintiffs can now go to court with the facts on their side anywhere and receive substantial and deserved awards for their serious injuries caused by the unfortunate actions of errant medical personnel.
These kinds of cases are a somber reminder of the kinds of problems that can arise when patients seek medical treatment in doctor’s offices, hospitals and other medical facilities and become innocent victims of inadequate or incorrect procedures. Patients and their families must be vigilant about the medical care they receive so they know what is being done for a patient’s care every step of the way. But at the same time, patients and families aren’t doctors and they can’t know every question to ask.
That’s where skilled, expert, compassionate and thorough legal representation is needed by patients and their families who have been harmed by medical errors or omissions during their treatment. 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.
We here at MyPhillyLawyer stand ready to assist you with your legal case if you or a loved one is ever seriously injured in a medical malpractice, birth injury or related case anywhere in the United States. We represent the families of victims who die in such tragedies as well, to ensure that their families receive every penny of damages that they are eligible to receive.
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.
When Winning Matters Most, Call MyPhillyLawyer.