For more information of confidential assistance
Call 800-306-3180

Cerebral Palsy Lawsuit Results in $7.5 Million Payout

Serene mother holding her babyAn Australian child diagnosed with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy has won a $7.5 million payout from the ACT government after the family claimed medical negligence was to blame for his birth injuries. The family had filed a cerebral palsy lawsuit alleging mistakes by the medical staff at Canberra Hospital led to their son’s birth injuries in 2000, including severe cerebral palsy.

Case filed against ACT government

The case was filed in ACT Supreme Court, where the jury began hearing testimony in early October. Although the trial was scheduled to run four weeks, the process was cut short when the judge overseeing the case, Justice John Burns, signed off on the settlement agreement. The lawsuit was filed against the ACT government, which oversees operations of the Canberra Hospital.

The parents of the injured child allege the baby was in breech position while in utero, which prompted the scheduling of a cesarean delivery at the hospital. However, the C-section was cancelled when the baby shifted position, despite evidence that the fetus had continued to change position throughout the pregnancy. The plaintiffs also stated in their complaint that the hospital failed to respond promptly when the mother entered the hospital reporting no feeling of movement from the baby.

The physicians did deliver the baby by cesarean, but the baby was not breathing at the time of birth and required immediate ventilation. Because the child was not delivered in a timely manner, according to the plaintiffs, oxygen deprivation left the baby with severe and permanent injuries that required an 11-day stay in a neonatal intensive care unit immediately following his birth.

The baby was also diagnosed with 40 different injuries, including multi-organ damage, cognitive impairment and spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy.

About cerebral palsy

Cerebral palsy is a motor disability that originates in the brain and affects a person’s ability to move and maintain balance. Spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy is the most serious form of spastic cerebral palsy, because it involves stiff muscles and awkward movements in all four limbs. This type of cerebral palsy is commonly accompanied by intellectual disability, vision and hearing problems and an inability to speak or walk. There is no cure for this debilitating condition, and those diagnosed with this type of cerebral palsy typically require extensive medical care over their lifetime.

The plaintiffs in this case attribute to their child’s injuries to a series of errors by hospital staff, including misdiagnosis of the baby’s frequently changing position, ignoring the mother’s reports of changes to the baby’s movements and failure to promptly assess the mother and schedule a cesarean delivery when she presented at the hospital with concerns about lack of movement from the baby.

In this cerebral palsy lawsuit, the parents of the child claim his injuries have left him permanently incapacitated, unable to work and in need of ongoing medical therapy. They sought compensation from the government for medical expenses, domestic assistance and other out-of-pocket costs for their child’s care.

At first, the ACT government fought the charges, denying a breach of care with the mother or baby. However, the government offered the payout to the plaintiffs just after it began presenting evidence in the ACT Supreme Court.