Under any standards in Oregon and all other jurisdictions, $53 million is a large medical negligence verdict. It is not surprising that the recent verdict entered by a jury in another state deals with yet another mismanaged baby delivery case. In most of the cases, a child is born with severe brain damage after being deprived of oxygen to the brain through treatment determined to constitute medical malpractice.
In this recent case, a jury came in with a $53 million award to the parents of a boy who is now 12 years old, considered totally disabled and suffering with cerebral palsy. The defendant hospital filed a motion to the trial court to enter judgment in the favor of the hospital notwithstanding the jury's verdict. This week the trial court entered an order denying the post-trial motions of the hospital.
The hospital must now file an appeal to an appellate court to challenge the award. The factual allegations were that the hospital had ignored the pregnant mother back in 2004 when she appeared with signs of fetal distress. If they had performed a quick cesarean section, the baby would have been born normal.
Instead, after first ignoring the woman, the doctors decided to wait for tests and failed to take timely action to deliver the boy. The fetal distress during that period served to keep vital oxygen supplies away from the baby's brain. The hospital tried to argue during the trial that the cerebral palsy was caused by the mother having a pre-existing infection, but the jury obviously rejected that version of events.
As always, the proof of a complex medical malpractice case like this one would be supported by medical expert testimony. The plaintiff's experts testified at trial that the brain damage was caused by the deprivation of oxygen and that a timely C-section would have prevented the tragedy from occurring. Many of the reported cases in Oregon dealing with similar factual scenarios are based on similar situations where a C-section should have been performed.
Source: cookcountyrecord.com, "Cook County judge: No new trial, $52M medmal verdict stands vs U of Chicago Medical Center", Jonathan Bilyk, Jan. 11, 2017