Back in 2007, a Florida medical malpractice jury awarded almost $31 million to a child and his parents for the child’s birth injuries that included cerebral palsy and other serious injuries that the jury determined were the result of medical malpractice committed by employees of Lee Memorial Health System in Southwest Florida. As a result of the medical malpractice negligence, the child (who is now 14 years old and lives with his mother in Colorado) needs around-the-clock physical care but is able to communicate by using a computer.
Lee Memorial was not required to pay the judgment at the time of the medical malpractice jury’s verdict due to sovereign immunity laws in Florida. Furthermore, Lee Memorial Health System did not have insurance coverage that would cover the verdict against it. Nonetheless, the medical malpractice claimants and their attorneys pursued legislation in Florida to obtain compensation that would be fair to the child and his family.
On March 5, 2012, the Florida House considered and passed House Bill 965 that would require Lee Memorial to pay $15 million of the medical malpractice jury verdict. On March 7, 2012, the Florida Senate considered House Bill 965 and passed it by a vote of 32 to 4. The legislation now goes to Governor Rick Scott for his consideration. The $15 million would be paid over time: $10 million by the end of 2012 and $1 million per year for five years thereafter.
Critics of the legislation include Lee Memorial Health System that argued that the money it would have to pay to the child and his parents is money that would otherwise be used to provide necessary health care to other children. An attempt in the Florida Senate by senators from Southwest Florida (where Lee Memorial Health System operates) to reduce the $15 million payment to $7.25 million was defeated in the Florida Senate.
We applaud the Florida Legislature in its efforts to right a wrong — the medical malpractice jury considered all of the evidence and testimony in a fair trial before determining that the medical malpractice negligence of the employees of Lee Memorial Health System was responsible for the child’s severe and permanent injuries and that the sum of nearly $31 million would be fair compensation for the child’s life-long injuries and his parents’ losses. Since Lee Memorial Health System chose to be uninsured for the negligence of its employees at the time of the child’s injuries, it has no valid reason to complain that it is being told to accept the less-than-one-half of its established financial responsibility to the child and his parents.
If you have become the victim of a hospital’s medical malpractice or other medical provider’s medical negligence, you should promptly consult with a medical malpractice attorney to learn about your possible right to compensation for your injuries and losses.
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