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This week, in a Chicago courtroom, a judge handed down a massive, record setting, $23.1 million malpractice verdict against a neonatologist. The verdict, according to the plaintiff's attorney, is believed to be the largest birth injury verdict handed down by a judge (as compared to a jury verdict).
The verdict was awarded to the parents of a five year old girl that will suffer from a lifetime of health issues as a result of the medical malpractice. Although the hospital was not found to be negligent, it will be footing the bill for $21 million, while the doctor, who was found negligent, pays the remaining $2 million himself.
The lawsuit, which was filed in 2014, alleged that the young girl's brain damage was the result of the neonatologist's tardiness, and a failure to timely provide a blood transfusion. Now, the young girl suffers from epilepsy and cerebral palsy, among other health problems as well.
The infant doctor asserted that he accidentally left both his pager and cell phone behind at work when he left that day. During the mother's delivery, complications arose, which necessitated a c-section delivery. According to one source, when born, the infant showed no signs of life, required resuscitation and a blood transfusion. What's worse is that the neonatologist on-call was not present. This led to delays in the transfusion, which led to the brain damage, and other health issues.
One of the more fascinating aspects of this case was a stipulation the parties entered into before the judge reached her verdict. Generally, during a lawsuit, parties may make agreements affecting the case called stipulations. Oftentimes, stipulations will require judicial approval, however, sometimes they do not. They can cover a wide range of topics ranging from when documents will be exchanged to agreements dismissing a party from a case.
In this case, the parties agreed that neither side would file an appeal based on the judge's ruling. This means that the judge's ruling becomes a final ruling immediately and the defendants cannot object to the amount awarded, nor the decree finding the doctor liable.
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