MEDICAL MALPRACTICE: $18.2 MILLION
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