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U.S. Gov't to Pay $6.5M for Baby's Brain Injury

By Brett Snider, Esq. | Last updated on

A Michigan family is set to collect $6.5 million for their baby's brain injury at a military hospital, after a judge approved a settlement agreement with the federal government.

Haiden Rivera, now 5, was born in September 2008 at Fort Hood's Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center via induced labor, reports the Killeen Daily Herald. The Riveras' suit alleged that Darnell Medical Center was responsible for the severe brain damage caused by this induced birth.

What were the Riveras' claims for their newborn's brain injuries?

Negligence in Inducing Labor Alleged

Shortly after baby Haiden was born, he was airlifted to a hospital at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio where doctors told his mother that he'd suffered severe brain damage and would likely develop cerebral palsy, reports the Herald.

Cerebral palsy is an umbrella term for a number of disorders affecting a baby's brain function and body movement, and it can often be caused by lack of oxygen to the infant's brain during delivery. A Center for Disease Control study found that more than 1 in 20 cases of children with spastic cerebral palsy were linked to interruption of the infant's oxygen supply.

It may have been research and studies like the CDC's which caused Haiden's mother, Kassie Rivera, to discover that Haiden's cerebal palsy wasn't a birth defect -- it was due to trauma.

The lawsuit also accused doctors of ignoring the danger to Haiden's brain by his mother's overstimulated contractions -- contractions which were forced by the administration of the drug oxytocin, reports the Herald. This isn't the first time oxytocin has been involved in a botched delivery; an Iowa family secured a $3.75 million settlement against the state for negligent use of the drug.

Settlement, Not Judgment

Although the government has agreed to pay the Riveras $6.5 million to settle the case, most settlements typically involve no admission of guilt or liability on the part of the defendant. News reports do not indicate if that's the case in the Riveras' settlement.

Even in cases involving the government, a judge is required to sign off on a settlement agreement to ensure that both parties have entered into the settlement in good faith and fair understanding of the terms.

Approval of the Riveras' settlement means that the family cannot return to sue the government later for Haiden's injuries, but the money means that Haiden will be taken care of financially.

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