August 2, 2012 — A jury in Baltimore has awarded $21 million to the family of a boy who suffered from cerebral palsy. Jayden Norfleet, a nine year-old boy who was born prematurely in 2002, has cerebral palsy that causes severe physical disability but no mental disability. He has very limited use of his legs and hands. According to attorneys arguing on his behalf, he is “literally trapped inside his body.”
Jayden’s attorneys successfully convinced the jury that Jayden’s injuries occurred because the hospital failed to realize he was suffering from oxygen deprivation in the womb, and they allowed a prolonged vaginal delivery instead of a Caesarian section. They allege that his severe disabilities were caused by prolonged oxygen deprivation.
Jayden’s family was awarded $18 million for past and future medical expenses, $2 million for lost potential earnings, and $1 million for pain and suffering. The family said they hope the award will make Jayden’s ongoing medical expense more affordable.
This is the second major jury award to come from Baltimore this year. In June, another family was awarded $55 million for a very similar birth injury lawsuit — attorneys successfully argued that Johns Hopkins Hospital medical staff failed to perform a Caesarian section when a child had oxygen deprivation during delivery, which caused the child’s cerebral palsy. The judgement is one of the largest malpractice awards in state history.
Attorneys for Harbor Hospital were disappointed and did not understand the jury’s verdict. The hospital’s attorneys argued that Jayden’s injuries occurred because he was born prematurely, and the hospital staff performed multiple tests that showed he was not suffering from oxygen deprivation during delivery. Oxygen deprivation causes brain swelling and changes to blood chemistry, but ultrasounds showed no signs of brain swelling, and blood tests were also normal.
The hospital attorneys are concerned that these two major jury awards could threaten all hospitals that deliver babies in the state.
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