AP NEWS

Baltimore jury awards $229.6M in medical malpractice lawsuit

July 3, 2019

BALTIMORE (AP) — A jury in Baltimore has awarded $229.6 million to a woman and her young daughter in a medical malpractice lawsuit that alleged the child suffered a brain injury at birth that requires around-the-clock care.

The jury deliberated for less than three hours on Monday before returning the verdict against Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. The award will likely be reduced to just over $200 million because state law caps malpractice verdicts.

The case centered on the mother’s decision to forgo a C-section when at 25 weeks of gestation she was admitted nearly five years ago to the Baltimore hospital with severe preeclampsia, a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure. Lawyers for Erica Byrom, who was 16 at the time, argued she declined that delivery method — the safest under her conditions — because doctors erroneously told her the baby would die or suffer brain damage.

The lawsuit stated doctors induced labor on Oct. 23, 2014. Byrom’s attorneys said she was in labor for 22 hours, but the baby’s brain did not receive enough oxygen during that time. Zubida was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and requires constant care. She also suffers from microcephaly, a condition in which the head is smaller than normal, along with seizures and significant pain, according to the lawsuit.

During the two-week trial, attorneys for the hospital told the jury of five men and one woman that the doctors were not negligent. The Baltimore Sun reported the attorneys in court records argued that doctors were prevented from performing a C-section and that the child’s injury occurred after Byrom “tied (the hospital’s) proverbial hands” regarding the delivery method.

The mother and daughter live in Fort Washington. Their lawyers said in a statement that they are pleased the jury “sought to make sure that Zubida’s medical care was covered for the rest of her life.”

Hospital spokeswoman Kim Hoppe told the newspaper the facility will appeal the verdict.

“We are confident in the care this patient received and have provided ample documentation clearly demonstrating that we appropriately informed her multiple times of all of the risks associated with her condition,” Hoppe told the newspaper. “The verdict was not supported by the evidence.”

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Information from: The Baltimore Sun, http://www.baltimoresun.com

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