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Birth injury case ends in $55 million award to parents

Parents and parents-to-be in Maricopa County, Arizona, know that childbirth can be simultaneously frightening and wonderful. For a couple in another state, the events of their son's birth four years ago were more than frightening -- they were very dangerous. In a lawsuit against the hospital and doctors, the couple alleges that the failure to conduct a timely cesarean section resulted in birth injury for their son.

The hospital denied the allegations, stating staff provided routine and appropriate care. They do not believe the care caused harm to the baby, and experts from several top national hospitals agreed during courtroom testimony. Still, the jury decided in favor of the plaintiffs, awarding the couple and their now 4-year-old son $55 million in damages and future medical expenses.

According to the couple's lawyers, doctors did not perform a necessary cesarean section. This resulted in injury to the baby and the mother, who attorneys allege was too small to deliver the large baby. The attorneys also stated that the physicians and hospital staff didn't note that the baby wasn't getting enough oxygen before and during the delivery.

According to the lawsuit, these errors caused long-term damage to the baby. The little boy is developmentally challenged and still wears diapers. He also has cerebral palsy.

Though the jury award was $55 million, the couple will not receive the total amount. There was a previous agreement between the couple and the defendants that limited the amount of the payout. The agreement also guaranteed the couple would receive a minimal amount regardless of the jury's decision.

Cases involving injured babies and children can be fraught with emotion. Victims of medical malpractice must work to set aside emotion and understand the facts of the case and legal options. In this case, several decisions were made to help guarantee a viable future for the couple and their son.

Source: The Morning Call, "Lehigh County jury awards family $55 million in medical malpractice case against St. Luke's" Kevin Amerman, Dec. 23, 2013

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