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$15 Million Award In Birth Malpractice Case Hayward Baby Has Brain Damage

May 29, 2003 | San Francisco Chronicle

A jury in Hayward has awarded nearly $15 million to the family of a 2- year-old boy who suffered permanent brain damage because of medical malpractice by Alameda Hospital and a doctor.

The Alameda County jury found the hospital 60 percent responsible for the condition of Collin Page of Alameda, whose delivery by cesarean section on Jan.

20, 2001, came too late after his mother's uterus ruptured, said the family's attorney, Steven Brewer of Oakland.

Collin suffers from cerebral palsy, does not have control of his limbs and will need care for the rest of his life. The jury determined his life expectancy to be 32 years.

Nurses at the hospital and Dr. John Carper of Alameda failed to recognize the possibility of uterine rupture in women who attempt vaginal birth after a previous C-section, Brewer said.

Page, who suffered pain so severe she felt she was "dying," underwent a belated C-section that was performed by an on-call obstetrician. Collin would have been "happy and healthy" had he been delivered 15 minutes earlier, Brewer said.

Carper did not have surgical privileges to perform the procedure and failed to notice Collin's deteriorating heart rate, Brewer said. The jury found Carper 40 percent liable.

"Both the doctor and the hospital treated this delivery as routine, when it was very much a high-risk delivery," Brewer said. "They had no plan in place to deal with this, and they got the shock of their lives when her uterus ruptured."

The jury awarded the family $8.5 million for medical expenses, $6.1 million for wages Collin would have earned and $250,000 for emotional distress and suffering.

Attorneys representing the hospital and the doctor said they do not know whether they will appeal the jury award.

"I don't think there's anyone to blame for this outcome," George Clause, a San Jose attorney for the hospital, said. "I think the nursing staff appropriately managed this patient's labor and delivery."

An attorney for Carper, David Lucchese of Walnut Creek, said the child's injuries were "unpreventable."

"Bad things can happen to good people," he said.

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