It took an Arkansas medical malpractice jury only 18 minutes of deliberations before returning a defense verdict in a birth injury medical malpractice case that was tried over a 12-day period. The Arkansas medical malpractice lawsuit alleged that a newborn suffered serious and permanent brain damage as a result of the medical negligence of the defendant family practice physician during the 1987 delivery (the medical malpractice lawsuit was not filed until the child turned 11 – he’s now 27).
The medical malpractice trial took place in a small rural community in Arkansas (population: less than 7,000). The case had been delayed for many years due to the fact that the local community only had court a couple times a year and the case had been bumped from the trial schedule on several occasions, including once when a higher priority murder case had to be tried and another time when heavy rains caused flooding that washed out a bridge into town.
The Plaintiff’s Alleged Underlying Facts
The plaintiff alleged that the defendant general practitioner doctor had failed to timely intubate and suction the newborn, who was born with meconium staining and fluid in his lungs. As a result in the alleged negligent delay in treating the newborn who was in distress, the plaintiff claimed that the baby suffered brain damage due to asphyxia, leading to severe mental retardation.
The defense argued to the jury that the baby had suffered brain damage before birth and his injuries were not as a result of the failure to timely resuscitate (which the defense denied), and further argued that the defendant doctor’s resuscitation efforts were aggressively undertaken over the course of 27 minutes. The Arkansas medical malpractice jury sided with the defense, determining that the newborn’s severe brain injury was congenital in nature and had occurred in utero, for which the doctor was not at fault.
The Defendant Doctor
The medical malpractice defendant was described by his attorney as a Marcus Welby-type, small town general practitioner who was known and respected by the entire community. The now 71-year-old physician is a member of a three-generation family medical practice that was started by the defendant’s father in the 1930s. The defendant joined his father in the family practice in 1970 after he had completed his military service in a hospital in Vietnam, where he took care of children who had been injured during the Vietnam War. The defendant’s son joined the medical practice in 2012.
If you or a family member suffered a birth injury that may be due to medical negligence in Arkansas or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find an Arkansas medical malpractice attorney, or a find a medical malpractice attorney in your state, who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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