Appeals court affirms 20.6 million USD award in birth injury lawsuit

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An appeals court upheld an award of $20.6 million to the family of a boy who now suffers from cerebral palsy due to a birth injury.

The family had been awarded $21 million by a jury in Baltimore City Circuit Court, but that was reduced to $20.6 million because of Maryland’s cap on non-economic damages.

Baltimore’s MedStar Harbor Hospital argued that there was insufficient evidence that the cerebral palsy resulted from delivery complications, but the Maryland Court of Special Appeals affirmed the capped award.

The appeals court, in a 3-0 decision, said that the central issue in the trial was a “classic battle” between expert witnesses, and that it was the jury’s decision who to believe.

The family’s experts said that the obstetrician’s failure to perform a cesarean section promptly caused the delivery complications and the child’s cerebral palsy. They testified that the baby’s low oxygen levels, shown on a fetal heart rate monitor, called for a C-section, but that the doctor allowed labor to continue for three more hours.

In its opinion, the court wrote that while the experts disagreed, there was sufficient evidence from the plaintiff’s side to make the question of causation an issue for the jury’s consideration.

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