A 6-year-old girl from Delaware County, Pennsylvania has been awarded $40.3 million in a medical malpractice case. The young girl’s spinal cord was injured during birth.
The case received one of the largest jury awards in the county in recent years.
The lawsuit named Delaware County Memorial Hospital, Crozer-Keystone Health System and Dr. Steven M. Troy, who delivered the girl.
The parents filed the lawsuit on behalf of their daughter, Grayson Charlton, in February 2013. Grayson’s father is a Republican state representative who was elected in November 2016 from the 165th District.
Grayson was in the footling position before birth, which would have meant that her feet would have been delivered first. The family’s attorney argued that Dr. Troy failed to protect the baby’s neck and head during the risky procedure.
As a result of the doctor’s negligence, the child was paralyzed from “mid-chest” down and cannot stand on her own. Grayson receives therapy several days a week.
“That child is going to have a lifetime of need, and that becomes very expensive when you project it out over that child’s lifetime,” said Center City attorney Aaron J. Freiwald. “I bet that there’s going to be a lot of learning going on at Delaware County Memorial Hospital.
“Birth injuries are medically challenging for the newborn, and emotionally and psychologically devastating to the parents and other family members,” says Cogan & Power, P.C.. “Moreover, birth injuries can wreak financial havoc on the parents of the newborn, as many birth injuries require not only immediate medical attention, but a lifetime of medical care and rehabilitative therapy.”
The lawsuit alleged that Dr. Troy lacked “sufficient training, experience, or qualifications to undertake such a complicated delivery.” The court documents also state that the delivery was conducted “aggressively.”
Harvard Medical School instructor Paul A. Caruso testified that Grayson’s brain scans had shown signs of trauma during delivery.
The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia had reached the same conclusion when the baby was transferred there days after her birth. Physicians at the hospital conducted an MRI and concluded that her injuries were caused by “significant birth trauma.”
Crozer-Keystone Health System defended the hospital in a statement.
“We are deeply sympathetic to any patients and families who undergo such an experience,” the statement read. “We strongly believe that the care provided in this case was compassionate, timely and clinically appropriate. The case predates the current management and ownership of the hospital and health network.”
Of the $40 million award, $30 million will be used for future medical expenses, and $10 million was awarded for pain and suffering.
Medical malpractice suits are not capped in Pennsylvania. One legal expert says that it is unlikely the family will receive the $40 million award.
“Assuming it is not appealed and overturned, the plaintiffs will end up with significantly less than the $40 [million], perhaps as little as 5 percent to 10 percent of that amount,” said Eric Feldman, a professor of medical ethics and health policy at University of Pennsylvania Law School. “It depends in part, of course, on the defendant’s insurance coverage, as well as on the appetite of both parties to negotiate, [and] the plaintiff’s need for cash sooner rather than later.”