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Jessica Fonseca, et al. v. United States of America


Injuries claimed: Brain damage due to lack of oxygen during birth, causing cerebral palsy and developmental delays

Court: U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin

Case name: Jessica Fonseca, et al. v. United States of America

Case number: 01-C-544

Judge: Lynn Adelman

Original amount sought: $7.3 million

Original offer: Less than $7 million

Award: $18.2 million

Date of incident: June 19, 1998

Disposition date: July 17, 2008

Original filing date: May 30, 2001

Plaintiffs attorney (firm): Euel W. Kinsey, McKeen & Associates, P.C.; Michael F. Hupy, Hupy and Abraham, S.C.; Robert B. Moodie, Hippenmeyer, Reilly, Moodie & Blum, S.C.

Defendants attorney (firm): Lisa Warwick, United States Department of Justice, Office of U.S. Attorney

Insurance carrier: None

Plaintiffs expert witnesses: Garrett Burris, M.D., pediatric neurologist; Kevin L. Schutz, life care planner; Robert Niendorf, Ph.D, economist; Dr. Kovnar, advanced healthcare, outpatient records

Defendants expert witnesses: Trudy Koslow, life care planning; Richard Meadows, M.D.

Noteworthy evidentiary issues: Placement of any award for future medical costs in a reversionary trust; Government’s obligation with respect to Plaintiffs’ past medical expenses paid by Medicaid funds

Plaintiff counsel’s summary of the facts: This suit arose from the birth complications surrounding the minor’s delivery on June 19, 1998. The complaint alleged that Jacqueline Lugo’s daughter sustained personal injuries as a result of the negligent and wrongful acts by the staff at the Sixteenth Street Community Health Cen-ter. Lugo was at high risk for complications because of her history of having large babies and her symptoms of gestational diabetes; however, despite these risks, Lugo was not referred to a specialist or obstetrician. The Sixteenth Street Community Clinic provided pre-natal care to Lugo by general practitioners and midwives through a federally funded program for the poor. Three months later, Lugo was advised by a clinic physician to deliver at Sinai-Samaritan. She was admitted into the hospital on June 18, 1998 and assigned a nurse midwife from the clinic. The midwife did not arrive at the hospital until the next morning where she delivered the baby without the aid of a physician. There were complications during the delivery, which caused the baby to be stuck in the birth canal for more than 20 minutes. As a result, the minor suffered severe brain injuries due to the lack of oxygen. The minor is now permanently and totally disabled. The U.S. District Court Judge Lynn S. Adelman awarded Lugo and her minor daughter 21 million dollars in damages. The parties later negotiated the 18.2 million dollar settlement to avoid appeal.

Length of trial: 2 days

Jury or bench: Bench trial

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