$28 Million Medical Judgment Against USA

EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. (CN) - A federal judge ordered Uncle Sam to pay more than $28 million to a family whose son who suffered severe brain injury when doctors failed to perform a timely Caesarean section.
     U.S. District Judge David R. Herndon entered judgment Friday for Sean Cobbs and his parents Patoya Bryant and Sean Cobbs Sr.
     The award includes $3,216,827 for lost earnings, $15,165,708 for future care, $231,713 for past medical expenses, $5 million for loss of normal life, $3 million for pain and suffering, $2 million for disfigurement, $1 million for risk of future harm and a setoff of $1.6 million from a settlement with Southern Illinois Hospital Services.
     The figures were based, in part, on awards in similar cases.
     The family sued the United States in November 2010 under the Federal Tort Claims Act, citing the conduct of Drs. Donald Bishop, Akua Afriyie-Gray, and Sridevi Panchamukhi, all board-certified obstetricians. The lawsuit included claims against Southern Illinois Hospital Services and two nurses, which were settled previously.
     The plaintiffs claimed the doctors' failure to order a timely C-section caused Sean's permanent brain injuries during his delivery in July 2009. They claim medical records showed Sean's brain injury occurred 40 minutes before and 10 minutes after his birth, based on heart rate and respiratory calculations.
     The government claimed the injury occurred before Patoya Bryant came to the hospital in labor distress.
     "It is not unusual for defendants to argue a baby suffered a brain injury from some unknown cause at some unknown time," Herndon wrote. "Here, however, we know the cause (oxygen deprivation) of Sean's brain injury. In terms of timing, the only evidence in the medical record that could have caused Sean's hypoxic-ischemic brain injury occurred in the last forty minutes before his birth and continued for at least ten minutes after he was born. It is disingenuous for the government to argue Sean's hypoxic-ischemic brain injury occurred a time other than the only time he was subjected to severe oxygen deprivation for a period clearly long enough to cause his brain injury. Finally, it is important to note that none of the government's witnesses testified that the events in the last 40 minutes before Sean was born and the resuscitation period after his birth had nothing to do with his brain injury."