A Chicago-area mother has been awarded $53 million in a birth injury lawsuit. Lisa Ewing gave birth to her son, Isaiah, at University of Chicago Medical Center (UCMC) in 2004. Isaiah was subsequently diagnosed with cerebral palsy (CP) – a condition which Ewing claims the hospital caused.
Mother and Baby Received Delayed Hospital Care
When Ewing arrived at UCMC she was 40 weeks pregnant and had come in because she was concerned that the baby wasn’t moving as much as he had previously. Ewing had to wait 12 hours to see a doctor.
Plaintiff Claims Negligent Care and Poor Diagnostics
During her time in the waiting room, Ewing alleges that the hospital staff failed to recognize signs that Isaiah’s brain was being deprived of oxygen. The birth injury lawsuit presented evidence that doctors and nurses committed 20 missteps in their treatment of her and the baby, including:
- Failing to carefully monitor fetal distress
- Failing to perform a cesarean section in a timely manner
- Mistakes in following a chain of command
- Failure to obtain accurate cord blood gases
- Lack of awareness of abnormal fetal heart rate patterns
- Failure to detect hypoxia, a drop in the baby’s supply of oxygen
The mistakes ultimately led to the delay of Ewing’s cesarean section, resulting in damage to Isaiah’s brain that Ewing says could have been prevented.
What is Cerebral Palsy (CP)?
CP is a motor disability that impairs movement, balance, and posture. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an average of 1 in 323 children in the U.S. have CP. CP is caused by abnormal brain development or an injury to the brain that impairs muscle control. There are various ways that the brain can be impacted resulting in CP, including:
- Lack of oxygen during the birth process or another birth injury
- Brain infections like meningitis or encephalitis
- Injuries like car accidents or child abuse
- Poor blood flow to the brain caused by strokes, clotting issues, or other vascular defects
These events can happen before or during the child’s birth and can even occur during the brain’s critical development period in the first years of life.
Hospital Claims No Negligence
UCMC maintains that there were no mistakes in the treatment of Ewing or her son. They say that Ewing was properly treated for an infection, which can cause CP, and that the staff’s actions were benign.
An expert witness testified on the hospital’s behalf that the fetus experienced no oxygen deprivation and had normal blood oxygen levels.
The hospital is seeking a mistrial or an appeal. UCMC’s post-verdict statement said:
Ewing’s lawyer “prejudicially argued that the defendant’s case was built on a falsehood and proceeded to equate defendant’s conduct and testimony of its witnesses with the propaganda techniques notoriously and unmistakably associated with Nazi Germany.”
The hospital went on to say that the plaintiff’s “closing argument shattered the line between zealous advocacy and improper prejudicial statements.”
Award Will Go Toward Child’s Lifetime Medical Care Needs
At the end of the birth injury trial, the jury deliberated about four hours before announcing its verdict. The $53 million award is the estimated cost of 24-hour-a-day care for Isaiah’s lifetime.
It includes $28.8 million for future caretaking expenses after his mother can no longer care for him – like wheelchairs and someone to bathe, feed, and dress him. The damages also include $7.2 million for future medical expenses.
If your loved one experienced a birth injury due to medical malpractice or negligent care, your family may be entitled to compensation. Talk to our legal team to learn more about whether you’re entitled to reimbursement for lost wages, medical care, and more.