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Judge Denies New Trial in Cerebral Palsy Case

Jan 19, 2017

Judge Denies New Trial in Cerebral Palsy Case

Illinois Judge Denies New Trial in Cerebral Palsy Case

A Cook County, Illinois, judge has upheld a $52 million medical malpractice verdict against the University of Chicago Medical Center. The case involves a baby born at the hospital with brain damage. The medical center plans to appeal the judgment.

Cook County Circuit Judge John Kirby entered the judgment on the jury's award on December 29, 2016 and denied the medical center's motion for a new trial.

Lawsuit Alleges Child's Cerebral Palsy by Delay in Treatment

The boy was born in 2004 with cerebral palsy, Law360 reports. At trial, the attorneys argued that the boy suffered brain damage at birth because of inadequate practices at the University of Chicago Medical Center. The family's legal counsel built a case that medical malpractice occurred but should have been prevented.

The University of Chicago will appeal the denial of its motion for a new trial and renew its efforts to reduce the jury's award. The majority of the award, which attorneys have said is among the largest ever handed down in Cook County, is to cover the boy's future medical expenses and allow him to continue living at home in his mother's care. The judge reduced the original $53 million award by $950,000 to correct a calculation based on the annual cost of nursing care. The final award in the judge's order is $52,050,000.

The experienced and knowledgeable attorneys at Parker Waichman can answer questions from families who are considering filing a birth-injury lawsuit.

Cerebral Palsy

The child and his mother filed the lawsuit against the medical center and several doctors in December 2013, claiming the doctors failed to respond to signs of fetal distress for hours before the delivery. The boy suffered severe oxygen deprivation that resulted in brain damage and is now confined to a wheelchair, unable to speak clearly or feed himself.

Cerebral palsy is a disorder of movement, muscle tone or posture that is caused by damage that occurs to the immature, developing brain, the Mayo Clinic explains. Lack of oxygen to the brain related to difficult labor or delivery can cause cerebral palsy.

According to the Mayo Clinic, cerebral palsy causes impaired movement associated with abnormal reflexes, floppiness or rigidity of the limbs and trunk, abnormal posture, involuntary movements, unsteady walking, or some combination of these. Some people with cerebral palsy have normal or near-normal intellectual capacity, but others may have intellectual disabilities. Epilepsy, blindness or deafness also may be present, the Mayo Clinic says.

Hospital Sought New Trial

The hospital filed multiple post-trial motions, including a motion over the conduct of the family's attorneys during closing arguments, a motion for a new trial, and a request to the judge to lower the amount of damages. In the appeal, the hospital said that an attorney for the family interfered with the hospital's right to a fair trial by telling the jury the hospital's defense was a lie designed to cover up what really happened.

Judge Kirby found no prejudice in the attorney's statements, but he did reduce the award to make it align with testimony about the estimated cost of nursing care.

Details of the Birth Injury Case

Details of the Birth Injury Case

Twelve years ago, the pregnant woman came to the University of Chicago Medical Center because she was experiencing decreased fetal movement from her unborn child. A first-year resident at the clinic evaluated her right away and determined fetal distress. But 11 hours passed until an obstetrician saw the mother. By the time an emergency caesarean section was performed, the boy was born with brain damage that would later be diagnosed as cerebral palsy and a seizure disorder. The lawsuit alleged that these conditions were directly caused by the delay in treatment.

The University of Chicago will appeal the denial of its motion for a new trial and renew its efforts to reduce the award. The medical center has already posted a $62.7 million bond pending its appeal.

In his ruling, Judge Kirby found no prejudice in the family's attorney's statements and denied the motion for a new trial, though he did reduce the award to bring it in line with testimony about the cost of daily nursing care.

Legal Help for Those Who Have Suffered Birth Injuries

If your child or a child you know has suffered a birth injury, you may have important legal rights. The attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP can provide a free, no obligation case evaluation. To reach the firm, fill out the contact form or call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).

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