Hypoxic Ischemic Injury Case- Boy Suffers Effects from Oxygen Deprivation During Birth
A Norfolk jury has returned a $5.55 million verdict for a 10-year-old boy who suffers the effects of oxygen deprivation that occurred during his birth.
Will Melton’s injury was blamed on a delay in performing a Caesarian section during his delivery on Dec. 31, 2003, according to Stephanie E. Grana of Richmond, the boy’s lawyer.
The verdict would have been subject to a cap of $1.7 million under Virginia law, which limits medical malpractice recoveries.
After the verdict, with the threat of appeals from both sides, lawyers for the boy and for his physicians reached agreement on a recovery amount. The financial terms of the settlement were not disclosed. Grana said she agreed not to disclose the identities of the defendants.
A hospital defendant settled early in the case, Grana said.
The birth injury – a hypoxic ischemic injury – was so traumatic, Melton spent his first month in the hospital, Grana said.
Nevertheless, his development, while slow, had not concerned his parents until he reached school age.
The parents, a North Carolina couple, then sought out services for Will. Because of the delay in bringing legal action, the parents lost the opportunity to bring claims for injury to the mother and for Will’s hospital bills.
Will was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, left greater than right, and an intellectual disability, Grana said. He reads at about a first grade level, she said.
The jury verdict was grounded on future costs of care. Grana said she presented a life care plan with a price tag of more than $3 million. Experts testified Will would not be able to live independently as an adult.
The five-day trial was presided over by Norfolk Circuit Judge Everett A. Martin Jr. The verdict came Sept. 26 after four full days of testimony, Grana said.
Grana said she asked the four-woman, three-man jury for just $4 million, but the panel returned a verdict for $5.55 million.
“A lot of times, you ask for a number and the jury gives less,” Grana said.
She did not know whether the larger verdict represented sympathy for Will or displeasure with the defendants’ professional care.
Grana presented Will to the jury on video, not in person. He was shown reading, riding a bike and playing baseball. “He has a wonderful personality. Just a delightful kid,” Grana said.
“He loves baseball,” Grana said. “He does not grasp the concept that he will never be on a competitive team.”
Grana tried the case along with Elliot M. Buckner from her firm.
– Article written by Peter Vieth, Virginia Lawyers Weekly