Sullivan Papain Block McGrath & Cannavo P.C. (SPBMC) won a stunning $26 million medical malpractice jury verdict last week in Kings County Supreme Court on behalf of its client, a seven-year-old girl who was born deaf due to a hospital’s negligence.
Jim Wilkens, of counsel to SPBMC, represented the plaintiff during the one-month trial. The jury awarded the substantial amount to the girl for her for past and future pain and suffering and medical expenses stemming from her deafness and other injuries, including life-long vocal cord paralysis.
The plaintiff was one of two twin girls born in 2010. Symptoms of pre-term labor started when her mother was 21 weeks pregnant. Pre-term birth is the biggest cause of injury and death related to childbirth – more than all other risk factors combined. On Feb. 9, 2010, the plaintiff’s mother twice visited the Labor and Delivery Triage Unit at Maimonides Hospital in Brooklyn, New York due to painful cramping and a brownish discharge that was turning pink, which suggested bleeding. The girls were born very prematurely in late-February; the plaintiff survived with several life-long medical problems and her sister unfortunately passed away in March 2010.
Wilkens argued during the month-long trial that the mother’s condition was a possible precursor to cervical shortening and that she should have been admitted to monitor her cervical length. If this had been done at the first sign of cervical change, bed rest and tocolytics (which can suppress pre-term labor) could have mitigated the risks of the delivery. The defending obstetricians conceded that those steps would have been effective treatments before the mother’s cervix became too short.
The jury deliberated for eight hours and returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff, awarding more than $26 million for the child’s past and future pain and suffering. The jury also awarded $500,000 for the wrongful death of her twin sister, who died 28 days after birth.