After an eight-day medical malpractice trial before a U.S. District Court judge in Sacramento, California, the judge ruled on October 28, 2015 that an obstetrician who worked at a federally-funded health care facility was medically negligent when he waited too long before delivering the plaintiff’s baby, resulting in catastrophic birth injuries.
The federal judge awarded the mother $250,000 for her emotional distress during the delivery and $9.6 million for the child’s injuries and damages.
The now three-and-a-half year old girl suffered a severe and permanent brain injury due to lack of adequate oxygen to her brain during delivery, resulting in blindness, the need to be fed through a tube, and the inability to walk, talk, or take care of herself. She also suffers from seizures and her life expectancy has been diminished due to her birth injury.
The federal judge’s ruling, which was filed on October 29, 2015, stated that during the 2012 delivery, the obstetrician waited too long to perform a required Cesarean section delivery. As a result of the baby’s delayed birth and resulting injuries, she will need life-long attendant care, including around-the-clock services of a vocational nurse. The verdict takes into account the anticipated future medical expenses for the child due to her birth injury.
Because the obstetrician who was found to have acted negligently in attending to the birth was employed by a federally-funded medical clinic, the United States was the named defendant and will be responsible for payment of the judge’s verdict, pursuant to the provisions of the Federal Tort Claims Act (“the Act”). Under the Act, the negligent individual is not named as a defendant. The Act further provides that claims against the United States are not tried before a jury but rather by a federal judge (a federal magistrate may become involved if the parties agree to same).
This federal medical malpractice case should act as a reminder to medical malpractice attorneys throughout the United States that it is important that they promptly determine if any of the individuals and/or medical clinics/facilities that may be responsible for medical negligence and the harm caused by alleged medical malpractice receive federal funding or are otherwise subject to the Federal Tort Claims Act – failure to do so promptly and failure to provide timely and proper notice for a claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act may result in the medical malpractice victim having no recourse to seek compensation for their medical malpractice injuries (however, they may have a claim for legal malpractice against their medical malpractice attorneys for their failure to timely determine that their claim is covered by the provisions of the Federal Tort Claims Act). There have been reported situations where initially there did not appear to be “federal involvement” to the plaintiff’s medical malpractice attorney investigating a client’s claim for medical malpractice but the attorney later became aware that a federal tort claim was required but was not timely filed.
If you or a loved one suffered a birth injury in California or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a California birth injury lawyer, or a birth injury lawyer in your state, who may investigate your birth injury claim for you and represent you in a birth injury case, if appropriate.
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