This recent cause of action is as tragic as it was avoidable. The mother of a newborn initiated a lawsuit against one of her doctors after his alleged negligence left the baby with brain damage from oxygen deprivation. Injuries to newborn children are alarmingly common and this case is illustrative of the adversity that families are dealing with today.
Filed: August 4, 2016
Jurisdiction: Circuit Court of Cook County
Category: Medical Malpractice; Family Expense Act
Plaintiff: Tara Lewis
Defendant(s): Dr. Joy West, Joy B. West, MD, SC, Calumet Physicians Associates, LTD and Roseland Community Hospital
This case is really a story in two parts. Tara Lewis went to the Roseland Hospital on January 2, 2015 because she was pregnant and was experiencing discomfort. At that time, she was 9 months pregnant. Doctors examined her and noted that she had elevated blood pressure, arterial pressure, protein levels, and preeclampsia. Physicians also determined that the fetal heart rate was Category 2. Two days later, she went to another hospital because she was again experiencing problems. This time the doctors elected to perform an emergency cesarian section. Unfortunately, the new child, Ta’Nila Lewis, was born with hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy. Commonly referred to as HIE, this is a brain injury arising from oxygen deprivation. To recover for the long-term pain and costs associated with this condition, Ta’Nila’s mother, Tara, sued the doctor, doctor’s employer, and the hospital for damages. She argued that the hospital was liable because the doctor was acting as its apparent agent. Also, in addition to her medical malpractice claims against these three parties, she also sued each of them under the Illinois Family Expense Act because, in her opinion, their acts wrongfully incurred expenses for her through her daughter.
Claims and Damages:
As mentioned above, Lewis sued the doctor, doctor’s employer, and the hospital for medical malpractice related to this series of events. Her claims against all of them were identical and consisted of the following: they did not properly identify the issue and diagnose Ta’nilya in utero on January 2, 2015; they did not utilize a cesarian section on the date in question; they did not hospitalize Ta’Nilya on the date in question; and they prematurely discharged Tara from the hospital on January 3, 2015.
As for Lewis’ three claims against the same parties pursuant to the Illinois Family Expense Act, she alleged that the proceeding claims gave her a cause of action according to language found within that law. Therefore, the claims were again identical.
Out of these claims, Lewis claimed that Ta’Nilya incurred the following damages:
- Pain and suffering
- Past and future medical expenses
- Pecuniary losses of over $50,000
- 735 ILCS 5/2-622
- 740 ILCS 180
- 750 ILCS 65/15
- 735 ILCS 5/13-212
- 735 ILCS 5/2-1116
- 735 ILCS 5/2-1115
- 735 ILCS 5/2-1114
- 735 ILCS 5/2-1205
- The task for the plaintiff’s counsel in this situation is to determine and demonstrate that elevated blood pressure, arterial pressure, and preeclampsia warrant an emergency cesarian section in order to avoid detrimental birth defects to the child.
- While punitive damages are barred in medical malpractice actions, the fact that the child was born with a substantial injury might allow the jury to return a verdict exponentially higher than the mere medical and financial costs. What is the value of having such a limited life due to the defendants’ malpractice? How can a jury not find sympathy for the mom and child? These points should afford plaintiff and her counsel extraordinary bargaining power in a settlement room.
Has Your Child Suffered an Injury During Labor and Delivery?
While the birthing process should be joyous, a lapse in judgment or failure to observe a child's heartbeat can result in a situations where a child's oxygen source can be interrupted resulting in a significant birth injury such as cerebral palsy. Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers prosecutes birth trauma cases across Illinois. We invite you to contact our office for a free review of your situation with an experienced attorney.