A medical malpractice jury in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana spent approximately one hour in deliberations after a one-week trial that concluded on August 10, 2012, before awarding $24 million (including $20 million for future medical expenses) for the permanent brain damage suffered by a toddler during cardiac surgery. The now 9-year-old child was 3-years-old when he underwent surgery during March, 2005 to correct a congenital heart defect.
An infusion pump used during the surgery malfunctioned, causing epinephrine (adrenalin) to lead to the toddler suffering cardiac arrest during the surgery. The medical malpractice case was originally filed against the hospital and the manufacturers of the infusion pump. The boy’s family was able to reach an undisclosed and confidential settlement with the infusion pump manufacturers in March, 2012.
The medical malpractice jury determined that the manufacturers were 65% responsible for the harms caused to the child, which means that they would have been responsible for $15.6 of the $24 million in damages awarded by the medical malpractice jury had they not settled the claims against them. The jury also found that the manufacturers failed to comply with their warranty extended to the hospital.
The hospital admitted its liability for the boy’s permanent injuries back in 2007 and paid its maximum liability under Louisiana state law ($100,000). The Louisiana Patient’s Compensation Fund, which is a medical malpractice fund that Louisiana administers, was found by the medical malpractice jury to be responsible for 35% of the medical malpractice verdict (that is, $8.4 million). The Fund is in the process of deciding whether it will appeal the jury’s verdict.
The mission/purpose of the Louisiana Patient’s Compensation Fund is stated on its website:
The mission of the Patient’s Compensation Fund Oversight Board is to administer, manage, operate and defend the Patient’s Compensation Fund in a manner that will timely and efficiently meet the needs and interests of those Louisiana citizens for whom the PCF was created to serve – Louisiana healthcare providers, legitimate injured parties of medical malpractice and the citizens of the State of Louisiana.
The purpose of the Patient’s Compensation Fund Oversight Board is to guarantee that affordable, medical malpractice coverage is available to all private healthcare providers and to provide a certain, stable source of compensation for legitimate injured parties of medical malpractice.
Louisiana’s medical malpractice law places limits on medical malpractice damages and provides how jury awards are to be paid:
B.(1) The total amount recoverable for all malpractice claims for injuries to or death of a patient, exclusive of future medical care and related benefits as provided in R.S. 40:1299.43, shall not exceed five hundred thousand dollars plus interest and cost.
(2) A health care provider qualified under this Part is not liable for an amount in excess of one hundred thousand dollars plus interest thereon accruing after April 1, 1991, and costs specifically provided for by this Paragraph for all malpractice claims because of injuries to or death of any one patient. The sole cost for which a health care provider qualified under this Part may be assessed by a trial court shall be limited to the cost incurred prior to the rendering of a final judgment against the health care provider, not as a nominal defendant, after a trial on a malpractice claim, including but not limited to, costs assessed pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure Article 970 in any instance where the board was not the offeror or offeree of the proposed settlement amount. The health care provider shall not be assessed costs in any action in which the fund intervenes or the health care provider is a nominal defendant after there has been a settlement between the health care provider and the claimant.
(3)(a) Any amount due from a judgment or settlement or from a final award in an arbitration proceeding which is in excess of the total liability of all liable health care providers, as provided in Paragraph (2) of this Subsection, shall be paid from the patient’s compensation fund pursuant to the provisions of R.S. 40:1299.44(C).
(b) The total amounts paid in accordance with Paragraphs (2) and (3) of this Subsection shall not exceed the limitation as provided in Paragraph (1) of this Subsection.
If you, a family member, or a loved one may have been injured as a result of medical malpractice in Louisiana or in another state in the United States, you should promptly consult with a local medical malpractice attorney who may be able to investigate your possible medical malpractice claim for you.
Click here to visit our website to be connected with medical malpractice lawyers in Louisiana or in your state who may be willing to represent you in your medical malpractice claim and file a medical malpractice case on your behalf, if appropriate. You may also reach us on our toll-free line: 800-295-3959.
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