$13 Million Verdict for Death of Baby

A baby born at Holy Cross Hospital in June 2008 died three days after being discharged in apparent good health. A lawsuit was filed following the death of this baby because before she was discharged, she had been examined twice by the defendant pediatrician who noted that she had a normal anus and normal genitalia. However, the first two nurses who saw the newborn allegedly chose not to perform a visual inspection of the baby’s anal area, which is a deviation from the standard of care.

Just 16 days after the child’s birth, she was rushed to the University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital in cardiac arrest.  It was discovered then that she had been born without an anus and was diagnosed with a congenital defect in which the child had no anus, no vaginal orifice and no urethral orifice and only a single perineal orifice in which she was passing stool and urine. 

An emergency surgery was performed the same day but because of the delay in diagnosis of the defect, the child suffered bowel obstruction, which led to a dead gut and abdominal compartment syndrome. The baby died five hours after the surgery; she was survived by her parents and a sister. The family’s lawsuit claimed that if the newborn’s condition had been correctly diagnosed during her birth admission at Holy Cross, she would have undergone a colostomy within 24-48 hours of birth to prevent the bowel obstruction and that would have been followed by a reconstruction surgery within her first year.

The family’s lawsuit also argued that the baby would have lived a normal life expectancy if the condition had been appropriately diagnosed and treated. The death rate for children born with this condition is less than 1%.

The defendants contended that the plaintiff’s notion that the baby’s condition was obvious was incorrect. Defendants argued that there was no way so many medical personnel and family members would have missed noticing it and also disputed whether the child died from the bowel obstruction caused by the defect. 

One of the nurses sued in the case was not employed by Holy Cross Hospital, but was employed by an independent nursing agency. That nurse contended that after the newborn’s anal patency was noted in the chart by another nurse, other nurses and medical providers could reasonably rely upon those findings and were not required under the standard of care to re-confirm patency during their shifts. The jury deliberated for two hours and found in favor of the child’s family against Holy Cross Hospital, the pediatrician involved and two of the nurses. The jury’s verdict of $13,086,208 was made up of the following damages:

  • $7,750,000 for wrongful death;
  • $6,500,000 for loss of society;
  • $1,250,000 for grief, sorrow and mental suffering;
  • $5,336,208 for survival claim;
  • $85,105 for medical expenses;
  • $1,103 for funeral expenses;
  • $4 million for pain and suffering;
  • $1 million for disability;
  • $250,000 for disfigurement.

The attorneys for the family of the child were David D. Nemeroff and Robert K. Albrecht. Before trial, the demand to settle of $4,500,000 was made. Plaintiff’s counsel asked the jury to return a verdict of $13,086,208, which is exactly what the jury’s verdict was.

There was no offer to settle the case before trial.   

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling birth injury cases and medical negligence matters for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 37 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Naperville, Oak Park, Prospect Heights, Bedford Park, Hickory Hills, Cicero, Chicago (Austin), Chicago (Galewood), Chicago (Belmont Heights), Morton Grove, Chicago (Ukrainian Village), Chicago (Goose Island), Yorkfield, Westchester, Hillside and LaGrange Park, Ill.

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