$23.1 Million Jury Verdict in Failure to Treat Preeclampsia

Iala Suarez was 24 weeks pregnant when she went to her obstetrician, Dr. Michael Coffey, for a regularly scheduled appointment. During that visit, testing showed that she had protein in her urine and high blood pressure. The next day, she went to the Peace River Medical Center, where she underwent a 24-hour urine test and a blood pressure evaluation. Suarez was discharged. The urine test results came back about 30 minutes later showing that she had preeclampsia.

Preeclampsia is a pregnancy condition considered a complication that comes with high blood pressure and signs of damage to another organ system, often the kidneys.

Over the next several days, Suarez saw Dr. Coffey during this time and went to Peace River Medical Center for an evaluation. She continued to experience high blood pressure, increased protein in her urine and restricted fetal growth. She eventually returned to the hospital where she underwent an emergency Cesarean section.

Suarez’s newborn daughter was delivered with severe cystic periventricular leukomalacia. This is a very serious development that damages the white matter of the brain. Among these infants, 60% to 100% are later diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Suarez’s daughter is now 5 years old and she requires constant, life-long care.

Suarez individually and on behalf of her daughter sued Dr. Coffey and the hospital claiming that they chose not to diagnose and treat preeclampsia when they knew or should have known that Iala was suffering from this condition. Among other things, the lawsuit alleged that the defendants should have timely transferred Suarez to a high-level medical facility, where she would have been monitored and treated with antenatal corticosteroids.

After hearing the evidence in this case, the jury entered a verdict in favor of Suarez and her daughter in the amount of $23.1 million apportioning liability at 70% to Dr. Coffey and 30% to the hospital.

The attorneys representing Suarez and her daughter were Stuart N. Ratzan and Stuart J. Weissman.

At trial, the plaintiffs engaged experts in life-care planning, maternal fetal medicine, pediatric neurology, nursing and pediatric neuroradiology.

The defendants provided expert testimony in the areas of neonatology, pediatric neurology, obstetrics and hospital administration.

Suarez v. Port Charlotte HMA, LLC, No. 13-1984 CA (Fla. Cir. Ct. Charlotte County, April 24, 2015).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling birth trauma injury cases, birth injury cases, hospital negligence cases and obstetrician negligence cases for individuals and families who have been injured or killed by the negligence of a medical provider for more than 38 years, in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas including, Midlothian, LaGrange Park, Lemont, Lincolnshire, Matteson, Melrose Park, Northlake, Oak Lawn, Forestview, Glenview, Des Plaines, Crete, Crestwood, Calumet Park and Burbank, Ill.

Related blog posts:

$1.5 Million Jury Verdict in Lawsuit Over Delayed Cesarean Section

$18.27 Million Jury Award in Failure to Comply with Standing Orders of Obstetrician

Jury Enters $10.93 Million Verdict for Doctor’s Failure to Take Adequate History of Pregnant Patient