Ohio brain damage victim wins medical malpractice suit

A jury in Ohio has just awarded the victim of medical malpractice over $11 million.

It took two weeks to hear the full case against the doctor that treated the child's mother during her pregnancy. The child, now 16 years old, has brain damage that resulted from a mishandled delivery. He has severe cognitive and social impairments that will affect his ability to hold a job or maintain social relationships far into the future.

The teen's parents filed the lawsuit to try to ensure that their son will be able to afford the type of care he's likely to require throughout his lifetime.

For their part, the defendants -- which included both the doctor and the hospital where the boy was delivered -- argued that all the proper procedures at the time of the delivery and that they weren't negligent or even responsible for the boy's brain damage.

According to the evidence, the doctor used both forceps and a vacuum to deliver the baby vaginally despite clear signs that a Caesarian delivery was needed. The child was overly large and breech, the delivery was long and the mother had never delivered before. Lawyers for the boy and his family say that the delivery was traumatizing and the family was told early on that there may be permanent damage, even while the child was still in the hospital.

Clear evidence that the child was experiencing the lingering effects of his birth didn't develop, however, until he was a preteen. Later, an MRI showed that he was not autistic, as was initially suspected, but brain damaged. Further investigation indicated that the area of his brain damage correlated with photos of his post-birth contusions.

The large verdict represents both the expenses the family has already incurred on behalf of the boy and money that's expected to be used for his care going forward.

What's particularly unusual in a case like this is the large gap between the onset of injuries at birth and the lawsuit, which didn't occur until years later. While lawsuits based on personal injuries are normally time-barred in Ohio after two years, some traumatic brain injuries can't be easily detected until years after they occur -- as in this case. In those situations, the time limit to file a case can sometimes be overcome.

Source: Akron Beach Journal, "Summit jury awards $11.35 million in lawsuit involving Massillon boy with brain injury," Stephanie Warsmith, Feb. 16, 2018

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