A West Virginia woman and her young daughter have been awarded $7.1 million following improper medical treatment that caused the child to suffer irreversible brain damage leading to cerebral palsy. The case was heard as a bench trial by Chief U.S. District Judge Gina Groh, who cited attending physician Sarah Hardy of the Shenandoah Valley Medical System with failing to meet the “appropriate standard of care” in October 2013, when 16-year-old Kayla Butts arrived at the hospital to deliver her child.
According to testimony provided in the case, the child’s cerebral palsy was a direct result of the lack of action taken by the hospital staff. The mother’s pregnancy had been demanding: she was previously hospitalized during her pregnancy for a bacterial infection, fever and multiple instances of pre-term labor, and upon delivery, the child showed signs of struggling.
Though Dr. Hardy had expressed the belief that the child should be transferred from Berkely Medical Center to Winchester Medical Center, where there was a neonatal intensive care unit, a nurse manager had persuaded her not to. The child eventually became cyanotic and developed the irreversible brain condition.
Judge Awards $7.1 Million to Family of Child With Cerebral Palsy
The negligent treatment not only resulted in the child developing cerebral palsy but yielded almost $225,000 in medical bills and services already incurred. The judge awarded the mother with compensation for those expenses and gave the child, who is now four years old, $6,912,412.49 for future lost earning capacity, future health care costs, and noneconomic damages.
In her verdict, Jude Groh noted that the child “has no prospect whatsoever of approaching normal development; will not graduate from high school with any marketable skills; will remain completely and permanently disabled from any type of meaningful, gainful employment; will need continuous safety supervision; [and] will not be able to make any life decisions on her own; and she is going to be dependent on a caretaker, conservator or guardian to make decisions on her behalf.
She will never be able to walk without a walker or some assistance. It is likely she will suffer from seizures. She needs physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy to maximize her basic functional skills.”