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Indiana Couple Wins $15 Million Birth Injury Lawsuit Award

Birth Injury Lawsuit

Birth Injury Lawsuit AwardDespite being awarded $15 million by a jury in their medical malpractice suit against St. Mary’s Medical Center and Dr. Mureena Turnquest-Wells, an Evansville, Indiana couple may only see only a small fraction of the judgment. According to Indiana law, medical malpractice judgments are capped at $1.25 million, but with the additional expenses of legal fees and trial costs, the family may only receive only a portion of this amount.  The birth injury lawsuit award was related to injuries suffered by the couple’s daughter who was born with severe brain trauma and cerebral palsy following a botched medical procedure.

Following the birth of their child, the parents brought their complaint to a state Medical Review Panel as required by state law. The three doctor panel found for the hospital, but the couple decided to pursue a medical malpractice suit.  In the first trial held in 2009, the jury was unable to reach a verdict.  The second trial that ended in August of 2013 lasted a mere ten days and produced the birth injury lawsuit award that is currently being contested in state court.

Details of birth injury lawsuit award

The daughter of the Indiana couple was born in September 2003 with severe brain injuries.  The infant is incapable of speech and has cerebral palsy in all of her limbs which necessitates a wheelchair and a feeding tube.  Constant nursing care is required and this is expected to continue through the rest of her life.

In their lawsuit, the parents of the infant accused St. Mary’s Medical Center, Dr. Turnquest-Wells and an attending anesthesiologist of failing to provide the necessary standard of medical care to perform a fetal blood sampling procedure on the mother.  The complaint alleges that the procedure was conducted without adequate medical staffing and the continuous ultrasound guidance necessary to ensure safe performance of the procedure.  When the needle was inserted into the umbilical vein of the 33 week old fetus, Dr. Turnquest-Wells allegedly failed to recognize symptoms of fetal distress.

The physician attempted to insert the needle multiple times into the umbilical vein and failed; the medical staff also failed to take necessary steps to preserve the health of the child and deliver the infant swiftly, according to their complaint.  The lawsuit also alleged that Dr. Turnquest-Wells failed to acquire informed consent prior to performing this elective procedure.

Further challenges for Indiana family

Although the $15 million birth injury lawsuit award was legally determined by a jury, the plaintiffs in this case will likely need to pursue further legal action to receive the money.  The most immediate challenge includes a potential appeal by St. Mary’s Medical Center or Dr. Mureena Turnquest-Wells.  An appeal could produce a reversal of judgment or diminish the award.

If the judgment stands up under appeal, the lawsuit may have to include a challenge of the state law limiting medical malpractice judgments.  The attorney for the Indiana plaintiffs has already begun the process to challenge the constitutionality of this law.

Evansville Courier & Press, Evansville couple wins $15 million lawsuit against St. Mary's Medical Center,