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Royal Oak hospital to pay $1.1 million for burned boy

Dec 21, 2005 | AP

A Royal Oak hospital has agreed to pay $1.1 million to settle a lawsuit over a fire that burned a premature baby.

Oakland County Circuit Judge Gene Schnelz on Tuesday approved the settlement between the parents of Nathan Laporte, now 8, and William Beaumont Hospital.

In May, a jury awarded $8.25 million to the family, but state-mandated caps on such awards reduced the award to about $570,000.

Craig and Shelley Laporte of Macomb County's Macomb Township said Nathan, a quadruplet, suffered serious burns and long-term lung damage in a fire when he was in a premature baby at the hospital. Nathan cannot talk or dress himself or breathe on his own and has learning disabilities.

The fire happened in 1997, about three months after his birth, when a doctor at Beaumont used a surgical cauterizing tool around a respirator and sparked a flash fire.

The hospital has acknowledged and apologized for the fire and the burns but said the lung damage stemmed from complications of Nathan's 16-week premature birth, not the fire.

Prominent personal injury lawyer Geoffrey Fieger represented the parents.

"We're ready to focus on our everyday life, our children, the important stuff," Shelley Laporte told the Detroit Free Press. "This is not the divine justice we were hoping for."


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