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$35.4M Awarded to Woman in Childbirth Stroke Lawsuit

Lady Justice w/ScalesSeven years after a woman suffered a paralyzing stroke in the immediate aftermath of labor and delivery, she has been awarded $35.4 million in a childbirth stroke lawsuit. The Dedham, MA jury found for Andrea Larkin, 35, in a verdict was handed down on May 7 in Norfolk Superior Court against Dedham Medical Associates and Dr. Jehane Johnston.

In their medical malpractice lawsuit, the plaintiffs contend that Larkin suffered a stroke just hours after childbirth because her obstetrician was not aware of a medical condition that would have necessitated a C-section. Dr. Johnston noted the condition when she exampled Larkin four years prior to childbirth, but did not correctly log it into a data base designed for the reference of other medical professionals.

Neither Johnston nor her attorney were available for comment, though a spokesman for the medical center said that while their “… hearts go out to Andrea Larkin and her family,” they disagreed with the jury verdict and would be contesting it.

Lawsuit filed over incorrectly recorded brain abnormalities

Larkin, of Walpole, MA, was examined at Dedham Medical Associates by Dr. Johnston when she experienced dizziness after running the Boston Marathon in 2004. According to Larkin’s attorney, an MRI and CAT scan revealed brain abnormalities at that time.

Dr. Johnston was required by law to place Larkin on a list designed to make other doctors aware of patients with special medical issues. Because she did not do so, the obstetrician who delivered Larkin’s baby was not aware of the brain abnormalities when she gave birth four years later and did not order a C-section for Larkin, for whom normal labor and delivery were dangerous.

Hours after giving birth to her daughter, Larkin suffered a massive stroke that left her paralyzed with the exception of some movement in her right arm. Though Larkin’s husband says that they try to remain hopeful, he says that her condition has not measurably improved after 7 years of therapy.

Medical malpractice lawyer describes impact of paralysis

Larkin’s husband states that while they love their daughter very much he finds it painful to see the difficulties his wife has interacting with the girl, particularly because of Larkin’s current lack of communication skills. He adds that, “Any time you see your wife, your best friend, have this happen to her, and given the person that she was before all this happened, and given [how] she wanted to be as a mother, in terms of playing a very active role in that capacity, it’s devastating to see.”

Prior to the stroke, Larkin had been a teacher at a charter school. Now, Larkin’s lawyer notes that “She requires 24-hour care for pretty much everything… …She has difficulty with speech. She can’t work. It’s really sad.” Paying for the round-the-clock care that Larkin requires has cost the couple approximately $200,000 a year. They have been paying these fees out of pocket since the time of the stroke seven years ago.

When adjusted for interest, the medical malpractice jury award will actually come to more that $41 million, according to Larkin’s lawyer.