A Pennsylvania medical malpractice lawsuit filed against physicians who provided prenatal care to a pregnant woman was recently settled for a reported $4.25 million payment to the plaintiff. In an opinion filed on August 18, 2016 by a state court judge in Pennsylvania, the judge gave the defendants thirty days to object to his ruling that the terms of the May 27, 2016 settlement will not be sealed.
The Underlying Factual Allegations
The 29-year-old pregnant woman was treated for preeclampsia between December 9, 2008 and February 27, 2009 by the defendant physicians. When she was 33.4 weeks pregnant, she suffered a seizure due to eclampsia that caused her to suffer hypovolemic shock, experience massive hemorrhaging, and become tachycardic, which led to the death of the twins that she was carrying. She then had to have a hysterectomy during which her ovaries and fallopian tube were removed, which left her with the inability to have children at the age of 29.
The woman’s Pennsylvania medical malpractice lawsuit alleged that the defendant physicians failed to provide her with timely and appropriate diagnosis and treatment of her preeclampsia during what was her first pregnancy. She sought compensatory damages for her own emotional distress and physical harm along with damages on behalf of her stillborn twins.
A small wrinkle in the settlement was that the woman and the father of the stillborn twins were initially unable to agree on how the settlement proceeds would be divided. The father of the twins was allegedly not involved during the pregnancy and had abandoned the babies.
The woman filed a petition in her Pennsylvania birth injury lawsuit requesting the judge to apportion 60% of the settlement (less $1.7 million paid to her medical malpractice attorney for his fee and less $120,301 for reimbursement of litigation expenses) to her claim for compensatory damages for her emotional distress and 20% each to the survival claims of each stillborn baby, thereby precluding any recovery by the twins’ father. The father responded by objecting to the woman’s proposed apportionment and sought 50% of the settlement amount. The woman and the twins’ father ultimately agreed that the woman would receive 65% of the settlement and the father of the twins would receive 35%.
It is estimated that preeclampsia affects between 3% and 5% of pregnancies in the United States (worldwide, the rate is between 5% and 10%, and is responsible for 40% to 60% of maternal deaths in developing countries). Disorders related to maternal high blood pressure are the second leading cause of early neonatal and stillbirth deaths in developing countries.
If you or your baby suffered serious harm as a result of negligent prenatal care in Pennsylvania or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a birth injury lawyer in Pennsylvania or in your state who may investigate your birth injury claim for you and represent you and your child in a birth injury case, if appropriate.
Visit our website or call us toll-free in the United States at 800-295-3959 to find birth injury lawyers in your state who may assist you.
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