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Earlier this week, a jury in Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania awarded $20.5 million to the family of a boy that suffers from lasting medical problems caused by mistakes made at his birth. The day the baby was born, the mother contacted her doctor because she believed there may be something wrong with her unborn child. The doctor, who was not her primary obstetrician, told her to go to the medical center. There were indications that the unborn baby was in distress after she was hooked up to a fetal monitoring systemat the medical center. The nurses immediately called the obstetrician who gave the mother advice, but he failed to show up until 2 hours later. In the meantime, the unborn baby received very little oxygen. The situation was further aggravated by the doctor’s decision to attempt to induce labor. By the time the baby boy was delivered by Cesarean-section, which was about 4 hours later, irreparable damage had been done.

In addition to cerebral palsy, a neurological disorder that affects a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture, the child has no use of his hands, is almost completely blind and is mentally retarded. The baby boy, Cody, is now 7 years old and functions at the level of a 6- to 9-month-old, and will require 24-hour care for the rest of his life.

The jury, after 4 hours of deliberation, decided to assign 60% of the negligence to the physician, and 40% of the negligence to the hospital. The parents will receive $2 million for health care expenses and related costs, while Cody was awarded $18.5 million, which he will receive upon turning 18, for lost earning capacity, pain and suffering and medical expenses. The award is the largest medical malpractice jury verdict recent history.

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