Georgia Jury Awards Mother/Child $30 Million In Medical Malpractice Action Alleging Brain Injury/Cerebral Palsy Stemming From Delivery Delay
On June 22, 2012, plaintiff Zetah Louis was seen at Maternal Gynerations for routine pregnancy care. She was 35 weeks pregnant, had gestational diabetes, and had a non-reactive non-stress test. A follow-up biophysical profile was performed, with an "equivocal" score of 6/10, but no follow-up biophysical profile was ordered. Three days later, on June 25, 2012, plaintiff returned to Maternal Gynerations for an unscheduled visit, reporting reduced or absent fetal movement. An ultrasound revealed potential problems, and Dr. Willard Hearin sent plaintiff directly to the hospital. Dr. Hearin allegedly requested a consult through Dr. Kim Lipscomb of Maternal Fetal Specialists, which was disputed by Dr. Lipscomb.
Plaintiff alleged that she arrived at Gwinnett Medical Center (GMC) at approximately 5:30 p.m., but was not put on a fetal monitor until 7:17 p.m. GMC contended that plaintiff did not arrive until 6:28 p.m. Dr. Hearin arrived and, allegedly for the second time, contacted Dr. Lipscomb at approximately 8:30 p.m. Dr. Lipscomb recommended delivery, but noted that it would not be unreasonable to hold off "if intrauterine resuscitation and immediate biophysical profile were going to be performed." A stat biophysical profile was formally ordered at 8:50 p.m. Although GMC had three ultrasonographers on duty that evening, plaintiff's stat biophysical profile was not begun until 10:30 p.m. The biophysical profile score at 11:00 p.m. was 4/10, and plaintiff was placed back on a fetal monitor. When the fetal heart rate became bradycardic, a cesarean delivery was ordered with delivery at 11:37 p.m. R.A.'s Apgar scores were 1, 4, 7. Arterial cord blood pH was 6.65, indicating profound metabolic acidosis. She ultimately suffered quadriplegic cerebral palsy.
Plaintiff filed a medical malpractice action in the Gwinnett County State Court, GA, against defendants Willard C. Hearin, M.D.; Rebecca L. Williams, M.D.; Maternal Gynerations, P.C.; Kim Lipscomb, M.D.; Charles Read, M.D. (Dr. Lipscomb's partner who was admittedly never contacted about the patient and was subsequently dismissed from the case); Obstetrix Medical Group of Atlanta, LLC, d/b/a Maternal Fetal Specialists; Gwinnett Hospital System Physician Group, LLC; and Gwinnett Hospital System, Inc., d/b/a GMC. Plaintiff claimed that her minor child R.A. suffered from spastic quadriplegia, spasticity, cerebral palsy, cortical blindness, and seizure disorder as a result of the delay in delivery, with medical costs estimated between $ 37,000,000 to $ 47,000,000. The action proceeded to a jury trial before Judge Shawn Bratton. The jury of four males and eight females deliberated for nine hours before reaching a verdict on Nov. 9, 2016, awarding plaintiff $ 30,545,655 against Dr. Hearin and GMC only. The jury found Dr. Hearin 25% negligent and GMC 75% negligent.
Plaintiffs were represented by Daniel S. Weinstock, G. Scott Vezina, and Carolyn M. Chopko of Feldman Shepherd Wohlgelernter Tanner Weinstock; Jed Manton of Harris Penn & Lowry, LLP; and Darren Summerville of The Summerville Firm.
Lexis Advance subscribers may view the complete summary here: Zetah Louis, as Parent and Natural Guardian of a Minor Child, R.L., and Jason L. Pettie, in his Capacity as the Trustee of the Bankruptcy Estate of Zetah Louis, v. Willard C. Hearin, M.D.; Rebecca L. Williams, M.D.; Maternal Gynerations, P.C.; Kim Lipscomb, M.D.; Charles Read, M.D.; Obstetrix Medical Group of Atlanta, LLC, d/b/a Maternal Fetal Specialists; Gwinnett Hospital System Physician Group, LLC; and Gwinnett Hospital System, Inc., d/b/a Gwinnett Medical Center; 2016 Jury Verdicts LEXIS 8630.
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