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Eight-Figure Settlement in Brain-Damage Case

NEWARK, N.J. (CN) - A judge approved a $15 million settlement Friday for a mom who blames a New Jersey hospital after her baby suffered a stroke that left her brain-damaged.

Ta'Kahya Little was born nine weeks early to an Irvington couple on April 11, 2004, at University Hospital, part of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in Newark, according to a statement from the Little family's attorneys.

They say Ta'Kahya was diagnosed with several birth defects including a congenital cardiac abnormality called tetralogy of fallot.

The condition interrupts proper blood flow, but a child can usually undergo corrective surgery in the first two years, Westfield-based attorney Jeffrey Strauss said.

A year after her birth, a cardiologist allegedly recommended that the Ta'Kahya undergo surgery at a hospital in New York City. The Littles say he or the hospital failed to follow up with a pediatric cardiac surgeon.

Ta'Kahya needed life-saving surgery when her blood flow dropped suddenly on Nov. 1, 2005, attorneys for the Littles say.

Today the girl remains severely brain-damaged, with a vocabulary of just 10 to 20 words.

She "can follow some of her family's conversations, but her comprehension is limited and she undergoes speech, physical and occupational therapy," according to a statement from the attorneys.

The family must feed, wash and dress Ta'Kahya, as well as roll her to a different side in the middle of the night.

They alleged in a 2010 complaint that the hospital should have followed up months before the stroke on plans for the baby to undergo surgery in New York City.

Essex County Superior Court Judge Dennis Carey III approved a settlement on Dec. 18 that attorney Strauss reached after two rounds of mediation.

Strauss says the money "will fund annuities for the mother and daughter and a special needs trust for the daughter."

"Of the total, 17.5 percent of the net will go to the mother and the remainder to the daughter," according to a statement.

Scott Parsons, a partner with O'Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble, assisted Strauss with part of the case.

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