A Harford County jury awarded more than $13 million to a mother and son, an 18 year old who suffered brain damage when she was born at Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in 2004.
The lawsuit claimed the centre’s medical staff were negligent in not initiating a caesarean section when the baby showed signs of fetal distress. Now 18, the boy suffered a hemorrhage inside his skull during childbirth, which resulted in permanent brain damage and intellectual disability, according to the complaint.
Jurors ruled in favor of mother, Kenyetta Lewis, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of her son in 2020. The $13.3 million verdict included $10.5 million for future medical care and expenses and $2 million for pain and suffering, which will be reduced under Maryland. limit of damages.
The remainder was awarded for loss of earning capacity, said Jon Stefanuca, one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys who tried the case along with Briggs Bedigian and Merritt Lentz, of Gillman and Bedigian, LLC.
“We are thrilled that a Harford County jury was able to find that brain injury that manifests as compromised cognitive function has value and is important,” Stefanuca said. “In this case, a jury could see that a man’s life was forever changed because his mind was compromised.”
Lewis went to Upper Chesapeake Medical Center on July 26, 2004, and was admitted for inducing labor, according to the complaint. Lewis had high blood pressure, but there were no other signs of a medical emergency or fetal distress.
Lewis began taking Pitocin, a drug that helps induce contractions, according to the complaint. Her labor lasted over 17 hours, during which she had high blood pressure and there were signs of abnormalities on the fetal heart monitor.
Based on these signs, “the baby should have been delivered by caesarean section much earlier,” Stefanuca wrote in the complaint. “An earlier delivery would have resulted in the birth of a healthy child, and baby Lewis would have avoided all injuries.”
The jury trial lasted more than two weeks and ended on July 27. Jurors found that the attending physician, Dr. Arthur Morey, was negligent and failed to obtain informed consent from Lewis while she was in labor, Stefanuca said.
The jury also found that the nursing staff were negligent “for failing to administer Pitocin correctly and for failing to recognize the signs and symptoms of fetal distress during labour,” he said.
Thomas Whiteford, the attorney representing Morey, also did not return a request for comment.
A spokesperson for the University of Maryland Medical System, owner of Upper Chesapeake Medical Center, said in an email that the system is evaluating its appeal options.
“Cases involving children are always difficult to litigate and often invoke emotional reactions in understandable ways,” spokesman Michael Schwartzberg said. “We continue to wish the complainant and her son the very best. We strongly support the obstetrical care provided in this case, which we believe met the standards of care that were appropriate nearly two decades ago.