Record malpractice jury award reduced; still over $200 million

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A judge in another state recently reduced a jury award that reports had described as a record high verdict in a medical malpractice case. The reduction came because the state has legal caps on medical malpractice awards, specifically with respect to awards for pain and suffering and other non-economic damages. Still, the total judgment against the medical facility exceeds $200 million. It had been close to $230 million.

The jury award arose in the context of a birth injury case. A 16-year-old mother’s child was born with cerebral palsy after a difficult labor and delivery. The baby, who now requires constant nursing care and cannot live with the mother, suffered a severe brain injury during the birth.

The case, to some extent, is a case involving informed consent, or rather, the lack thereof. According to the attorneys for the child and her mother, medical staff gave her bad information about the overall well-being of her child and induced her to decline the option for an immediate C-Section. The argument was that had staff performed a C-Section promptly, the baby would not have suffered a brain injury.

For its part, the hospital denies wrongdoing and has continued to argue that the woman refused a C-Section, being fully aware of the possible consequences of doing so. The hospital has said that it intends to appeal this decision and warned that verdicts like this could mean fewer patients get access to quality obstetric care.

Houston residents, and particularly, those who are expecting a child, should bear this story in mind. While hopefully their childbirth experiences will go well, if they do not, there are legal options for recovering compensation for the enormous losses often associated with a birth injury.