$42 Million Judgment Entered for Brain Damaged Child Injured by Forceps During Delivery

A federal district court judge in Harrisburg, Penn., has entered a judgment for $42 million to the parents of a Pennsylvania boy left disabled because of brain injuries. In the federal lawsuit, it was alleged that the brain injury was caused by a doctor who used forceps during the delivery process of the child.

The judgment came after a six-day trial in September on claims by a Chambersburg, Penn., couple, Christiana Late and Nathan Armolt. Their 5-year-old son, identified only as D.A. in court documents, understands language but cannot speak, read or write.  He will eventually have to use a motorized wheelchair in order to move about.

The family sued the federal government for errors allegedly made by an obstetrician for Keystone Women’s Health Center, a federally supported facility. Dr. Thomas Orndorf, who was not sued, delivered the child Feb. 21, 2012, at Chambersburg Hospital. Under the law, when a federally financed clinic has been alleged to be negligent causing injury to a patient, the remedy is a claim against the United States under the Federal Torts Claim Act.

The parents maintained that Dr. Orndorf used forceps to grab the boy’s head in the attempt to complete the vaginal delivery.  However, the forceps’ pressure caused skull fractures, brain bleeding and brain damage. The forceps were unnecessary in that the child and his mother weren’t in distress as shown by the vitals taken at the time of the delivery. As such there was no need to use forceps at all.

The federal judge noted that Dr. Orndorf began using forceps after Ms. Late, the child’s mother, pushed just one time during her delivery and that the doctor was “straining, red-faced and sweaty” trying to extract the baby, even though the child’s and mother’s vital signs were normal and indicated no distress at that point.

Presiding “Judge Rambo appropriately held the government and Dr. Orndorf responsible for the catastrophic injuries caused to this little boy,” Regan Safier, an attorney for the couple, said in a statement from the firm, Kline & Specter P.C. of Philadelphia.

“The court recognized the severity of D.A.’s injuries and awarded what plaintiffs argued was necessary to care for him throughout his lifetime.”

Most of the verdict — nearly $33 million — is intended to cover the boy’s future medical care and assisted living. The judge agreed with the couple that their son “will be too difficult for his parents to handle” by the time he’s 22 and will likely need institutionalized care.

The verdict also includes $5 million for the boy’s pain and suffering, roughly $3.5 million for his loss of future earnings and fringe benefits and $104,000 to cover past medical expenses.

“The entire Keystone Health family is saddened by the outcome of this delivery and for the hardships this child and family have experienced and will continue to endure,” the Keystone statement stated.

“While our providers have performed thousands of deliveries resulting in healthy babies over the last 32 years, that does not diminish the significance and the pain of this regrettable incident. Keystone has taken all the necessary quality assurance steps so that this does not happen in the future.”

Late, et al. v. United States, U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Illinois birth trauma injury lawsuits, traumatic brain injury cases, wrongful death lawsuits and medical malpractice cases for individuals and families who have been injured, harmed or died because of the negligence of a medical provider for more than 40 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and surrounding communities including Melrose Park, Winnetka, Lake Bluff, Waukegan, Worth, Blue Island, Wilmette, Evanston, Niles and Morton Grove, Ill.

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