$21 Million FTCA Verdict for Milwaukee, Wisconsin Child with Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy with Resultant Seizure Disorder, Severe Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Delays
FTCA Claim (Federal Tort Claims Act) for Birth Injury
In this Milwaukee, Wisconsin HIE case, the mother, Jacqueline Lugo, received prenatal care throughout her pregnancy at the Sixteenth Street Community Health Center in Milwaukee through a federally funded program for low-income patients. Because the complications and traumatic birth injuries took place at a federally funded community health center, the case (Fonseca vs. United States) was litigated in U.S. District Court under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA).
Lugo had a history of macrosomia, was 37 at the time of her pregnancy, and exhibited signs of gestational diabetes. She was therefore at a high risk for labor and delivery complications. However, medical professionals at the clinic failed to refer her to both an obstetrician and a high-risk obstetrician. Rather, Lugo received prenatal care from nurse midwives and general family practice doctors.
Lugo went into labor on June 18, 1998 after being advised by a clinic doctor to go to Milwaukee’s Sinai-Samaritan Hospital to receive a medication that would induce labor. Nurses at the Milwaukee hospital managed the labor induction drug treatment. Before delivering the baby, she was left without the aid of a medical professional for over 12 hours. A nurse midwife did not arrive at the hospital until 40 minutes before delivery. During delivery, the baby became stuck in the birth canal for over 20 minutes, and suffered a severe lack of oxygen and suffering a brain injury known as hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, or HIE. According to hospital policy, it was the duty of a physician to request help from other Labor and Delivery residents, but the midwife failed to notify a physician; residents and staff never received a notification that help was needed.
Lugo’s daughter (Jessica Fonseca) was diagnosed with hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE; birth asphyxia), severe cerebral palsy, a seizure disorder, and developmental delays. The girl will require medical assistance for the rest of her life.
Reiter & Walsh, P.C’s partner attorney Euel Kinsey contended that the girl will face over $12 million in future medical expenses; he negotiated for a $21 million verdict.
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