Thursday, August 25, 2011

Malpractice awards upheld in NY Stillbirth Malpractice

In the Bronx, a mother delivered a stillborn child at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center; the staff had overlooked “the ominous pattern” of fetal distress and delayed an emergency Caesarean for too long, a state investigator found. The hospital’s lawyers have offered $500,000 to settle her malpractice suit.
These two cases are among the first to move through the legal system after New York’s highest court changed state law in 2004 and allowed mothers to sue for their emotional suffering when they claim that medical carelessness caused a stillbirth. With their different price tags on elemental maternal loss, the cases offer a rare view of the legal system’s first computations to set a new value on this singular type of suffering.
They also shed light on the often macabre computations that lawyers make in trying to fix a dollar figure. As these cases represent uncharted territory in the state, the grim comparisons have gone especially far afield. Lawyers sought, among other analogies, to compare the trauma of a stillbirth to that of being attacked by a dog or to a passenger’s spending nine minutes of anguish knowing a plane is going down.
Jeff S. Korek, the lawyer for the woman suing Lincoln, is arguing that the Brooklyn case — which took 14 years to reach this point — set a $1 million standard that should be accepted in the Bronx.