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Permanent Birth Injury Leads to $30 Million Jury Award

attorney speaking to jury

A Holyoke, Massachusetts family argued that a doctor’s negligence was to blame for their child’s permanent brain damage. Recently, a Hampden Superior Court jury agreed with the family’s allegations and awarded them nearly $30 million.

The now-11-year-old girl lives with severe disabilities that prevent her from caring for herself. These limitations are expected to last the rest of her life.

Breakdown of the malpractice award

The medical malpractice award includes $1.04 million for compensation for the family’s past medical bills and $16.1 million for the minor child’s future care needs. These could include anything from surgeries and hospitalizations to adaptive equipment and special education. The jury award also includes $1.25 million for the loss of the child’s future earning capacity. $1.5 million of the award is intended to compensate the child for her physical and mental suffering, disfigurement, and other general damages from birth until the date of the award, with the remaining $10 million to compensate the child for future damages.

Delayed C-section cited in complaint

The family originally filed the birth injury lawsuit in 2011. It named six physicians as deviating from the standard of care during the September 2004 labor and delivery. Court records indicate that the family accused the defendants of failing to properly interpret test results and failing to perform an emergency C-section as indicated.

When the mother was 28 weeks pregnant, she presented to the hospital, stating that fetal movement had ceased. She was admitted for monitoring and for nearly one full day, the maternal and fetal conditions were apparently not medically alarming. At that point; however, the fetal heart rate dropped. One of the doctors named as a defendant, Dr. David Seubert, was the attending physician and was on call at the time. He was called at home, but allegedly failed to arrive at the hospital.

Counsel for the plaintiffs asserted that the baby had “basically crashed” and should have been delivered immediately via Cesarean section. When a C-section was finally performed, the baby was apparently not breathing and had to be resuscitated. She was diagnosed with severe brain injuries caused by oxygen deprivation to the brain.

In finding in favor of the plaintiffs, the jury found four physician residents to be not negligent in providing care. Another of the six defendants had been removed as a defendant prior to the jury verdict. Dr. Seubert, who is now practicing in New York, was found medically negligent.

Child suffers permanent physical disabilities

According to their birth injury lawsuit, the minor child  — who is now 11 years old –cannot walk or talk. She is also legally blind. The child cannot feed herself; she must be fed through a gastric tube. The child also has a tracheotomy, which is a surgical opening in the windpipe. Its purpose is to facilitate breathing and to allow her parents to suction out secretions from her lungs. This suctioning must be performed several times each hour. The child requires intensive care around the clock, which is provided in part by her mother and father and in part by professional medical providers. When she is feeling up to it, she attends classes. However, she requires one-on-one attention from a teacher, as well as in-classroom nursing care.