Though giving birth may seem the most natural thing in the world, the risk of birth injury exists in every pregnancy. When injuries are a result of a physician or health care professionals’ departure from standard practice, it represents a betrayal of trust that has lifelong repercussions. That is exactly what happened to a Georgia woman whose obstetrician failed to take her off of a blood pressure medication known to cause fetal and neonatal side effects. A DeKalb County jury has awarded the child and her parents more than $6.4 million in compensation for the injuries that the child has suffered.
The birth injury case was filed on behalf of 8-year-old Kendyl Gorman, whose mother, Terry Franklin, had been prescribed the medication Benicar in 2009 by her primary care physician as a treatment for her high blood pressure. The medication’s packaging includes warnings against taking it during the second and third trimester of pregnancy, but according to Franklin and her husband, her obstetrician did not advise her that she should discontinue its use when she went to see him at her first consultation with him. The child ended up suffering a stroke in utero, as well as other anomalies that will be with her for the rest of her life.
Jury Award Comes After Physician Refuses Settlement in Birth Injury Case
Despite the fact that Ms. Franklin’s blood pressure medication warns specifically against taking it during late pregnancy due to high risk of birth injury, she and the child’s father both say that no such warning was given when they first met with the physician or at any time afterward. They point to the fact that they refilled the prescription immediately after that appointment as proof that no warning was given. By contrast, the physician named in the case insisted that he had told her to discontinue the medication, and because of that he refused to settle and turned down an offered $1 million.
Kendyl today suffers from intestinal problems and kidney failure that will require a replacement kidney at some point in the future. She also suffered brain damage that left her cognitively behind her peers. The original jury award totaled $12 million, but the jury later cut the award because they held the mother 46% responsible for the child’s injury.