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Parents Win $2 Million Judgement

Oct 18, 2004 | Fort Smith Times Record

A federal jury awarded $2 million Friday to a couple who sued Sparks Regional Medical Center over what they claimed was the botched delivery of their daughter.

Edwin Leahy and Brandy Tate-Leahy alleged in the malpractice suit that their daughter, Brittany Tate-Leahy, suffered severe neurological damage because of a delay in her delivery on Sept. 10, 2001. The hospital and Dr. Jimmy D. Acklin, the delivery doctor, were named as defendants in the suit.

At a four-day trial in U.S. District Court, attorneys for the plaintiffs argued that Acklin and the hospital were negligent in failing to deliver Brittany by Caesarian section until almost five hours after her mother was admitted to the hospital. A fetal heart monitor strip indicated the child was in distress and was not getting enough oxygen at 5:45 a.m., but the delivery did not occur until 10:37 a.m., the attorneys said.

Attorneys for the defendants argued that the care provided by the hospital and Acklin was within accepted standards, and that the damage Brittany received could have occurred before her mother arrived at the hospital.

Brittany was born with neurological damage so severe that she cannot move her arms or legs and cannot talk, Oklahoma City attorney Gary L. Brooks said in a telephone interview Sunday.

“She’s blind. She cannot communicate. She cannot eat. She has to be fed through a feeding tube. And her life expectancy obviously is considerably shortened,†Brooks said. Brooks and his wife, attorney Ann Core-Brooks, represented the plaintiffs in the case.

The eight-person jury found that the hospital was 60 percent at fault and that Acklin was 40 percent at fault. The $2 million judgment was awarded both for damages and for pain and suffering.

Brooks said he believed the judgment, though less than the $8 million the plaintiffs sought, sends a message that the community “won’t tolerate this kind of care.â€

Sparks spokesman Greg Russell said Sunday that the hospital did not wish to comment on the case. Russell said he did not know if the hospital would file an appeal.


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