Heart Injury at Birth Compensation Awarded in LA Court

A woman, who was the victim of negligent heart surgery when she was one day old, has been awarded one million dollars in heart injury at birth compensation by a court in Pasadena, Los Angeles – more than thirty years after her injury occurred.  

The unnamed female underwent corrective heart surgery to repair the septal wall between the two sides of her heart shortly after she was born in May 1979 at the Huntingdon Hospital in Pasadena. However, during the operation, the vena cava artery – the artery which carries de-oxygenised blood to the heart – was attached to the wrong side of the septal wall and, as a consequence of this mistake, the flow of blood was directed into the heart´s left atrium instead of the right atrium. As a result the girl suffered from generalised hypoxia, physical disability and other health problems as she grew up.

Despite frequents post-operative checks by her surgeon – Dr. Alan Gazzaniga of Pasadena – and other medical experts the cause of the girl´s condition was never identified until 2007. Shortly before the woman´s thirtieth birthday in April 2009, she underwent corrective surgery at USC Hospital in Pasadena. The operating surgeon on this occasion described Dr. Gazzaniga´s surgery as “baffling” and “incorrect” and attributed the woman´s “crippling oxygen deprivation and resulting disabilities accompanied with her oxygen starved condition and overall ill health” directly to the negligence of her original surgeon.

After seeking legal advice, the woman made a claim for heart injury at birth compensation against Dr. Gazzaniga. The woman´s legal representatives argued that, although the injury had been sustained more than thirty years ago, the discovery of the cause for the physical condition had happened within the Statute of Limitations. When this argument was opposed by defending counsel, it was contended that it was a reasonable assumption that Dr. Alan Gazzaniga had met the required standard of care at the time of the original operation, and the claimant could not be expected to have known that her heart condition was the result of alleged medical negligence by her surgeon as she was growing up.

This argument was accepted by the judge, and the case proceeded to court. The woman´s legal team prepared a substantial team of expert witnesses, including three cardiothoracic surgeons, who demonstrated how the heart injury was sustained and what the effects had been. After three weeks of litigation, the jury at the Los Angeles County Superior Court found in the woman´s favour and awarded her one million dollars in heart injury at birth compensation.


Brain Injury at Birth Compensation Awarded in Negligence Case

The family of a boy, who sustained severe spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy due to an 81 minute delay in performing an emergency Caesarean operation, have been awarded 78.5 million dollars in brain injury at birth compensation by a jury in Philadelphia.

Victoria Upsey (34) from Pottstown, Philadelphia, was admitted to Pottstown Memorial Medical Centre with signs of a placental abruption in August 2008 when she was 36 weeks pregnant. As foetal monitoring proved inconclusive, the duty obstetrician performed a bedside ultrasound examination from which he concluded that the child had died. However, Victoria felt that her baby was still alive and, after summoning the ultrasound technician from his home, a heartbeat was recorded and an emergency Caesarean operation performed.

At the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, the Honourable Mark Bernstein heard that the ultrasound equipment used by the obstetrician was more than ten years old and lacked the sensitivity of modern ultrasound equipment. Furthermore, the jury were told that the equipment had not been properly maintained nor checked that it was working properly since its introduction to the hospital despite the operating manual indicating that an annual service was required.

After a lengthy deliberation, the jury found in favour of the Upsey family and awarded 78.5 million dollars in brain injury at birth compensation for the pain and suffering experienced by their son, the future costs of medical care and lost earnings, and the emotional distress suffered by Victoria.


School Bully Injury Compensation Claim Settled Against School

A school district in New Jersey has agreed to pay 4.2 million dollars in school bully injury compensation after allegedly failing to comply with State anti-bullying laws and protect one of its students from the threat of injury.

Sawyer Rosenstein of Woodland Park, New Jersey, was just twelve years of age in May 2006 when a known bully at the Eric Smith Middle School punched him in the abdomen, causing a clot to develop in the artery that supplies blood to the spine and paralysing Sawyer from the waist down.

In a subsequent claim for school bully injury compensation against the Ramsey School District, Sawyer´s parents alleged that his attacker had a history of violent tendencies and cited an incident that had occurred a year earlier when the bully had punched another student in the face on the school bus.

They claimed that school officials kept no record of the incident nor subjected the boy to any discipline, and supported their allegations with an email that had been sent to Sawyer´s guidance counsellor just three months before the attack asking for help to deal with the bullying he was already experiencing.

In the email Sawyer wrote “I would like to let you know that the bullying has increased. I would like to figure out some coping mechanisms to deal with these situations, and I would just like to put this on file so if something happens again, we can show that there was past bullying situations.”

After months of negotiations, the 4.2 million dollar settlement of Sawyer´s school bully injury compensation claim was made in an out-of-court agreement without admission of liability. Sawyer now attends Syracuse University where he is a freshman majoring in communication.


Skull Fracture Claim Settled for Injured Schoolboy

A ten year old boy, who fractured his skull and suffered internal bleeding after falling from a climbing frame at his school, has been awarded 75,000 pounds following a playground accident claim for compensation.

Jamie Griffin from Haverhill, Suffolk, was playing on the climbing frame at the Burton End Primary School in Haverhill when the accident happened in November 2009. Falling almost five feet, Jamie struck his head on concrete blocks at the base of the climbing frame and immediately lost consciousness. He was rushed to hospital and, when he failed to come round after an hour, was given a CAT scan.

Doctors diagnosed Jamie with a fractured skull and internal bleeding which was coming from the main artery to his brain. At one point he was expected not to live but regained consciousness the following morning. His injuries left him temporarily blind and he was unable to return to school for ten weeks.

Following an investigation into the accident, Suffolk County Council was found to be in breach of health and safety regulations and fined. Janie´s mother – Debbie Griffin – bought a playground accident claim against the council and Jamie was awarded 7,500 pounds for his injuries – a compensation settlement which will remain in trust until he reaches eighteen years of age.


9 Million Pounds Package in Child Injury Claim Settlement

A girl, who suffered traumatic brain injuries when hit by a car at the age of seven, has had her child injury claim settlement approved by Mr Justice Popplewell at London´s High Court.

Leigh Ann Blinkthorn of Caister, Norfolk, is now twenty-three years old and requires the permanent assistance of two carers due to an aggressive personality disorder which was triggered as a result of her injuries.

Mr Justice Popplewell heard that although the accident occurred in January 1996, settlement of Leigh Ann´s child injury claim has taken fifteen years due to the changes in her care requirements and the fact that she has been placed in different residential care facilities when her parents have been unable to provide sufficient help for her.

The child injury claim settlement, which consists of a lump sum payment of 2,875,000 pounds and annual tax-free, index-linked payments of 191,758 pounds, will enable Leigh Ann to now live permanently with her parents – Colin and Joy. The total value of the settlement package is estimated to be around 9 million pounds.

Approving the child injury claim settlement against the driver of the vehicle responsible for Leigh Ann´s injuries – Stephen Hall of Norwich, Norfolk – Mr Justice Popplewell paid tribute to the “tireless care and dedication” provided by Leigh Ann´s parents and said “I hope that this settlement will bring a little enhancement to all your lives”.


UK Schools in Firing Line over Compensation Payments

Two recent freedom of information requests have revealed the volume and amounts of personal injury compensation payments being made to children in UK schools.

In the first, it was disclosed that over 30,000 pounds was paid out by local education authorities in Middlesbrough between 2008 and 2011. Incidents where a child trapped their finger in a school gate (3,750 pounds) and a child fell while jumping between benches (4,500 pounds) were highlighted, with the biggest compensation settlement being for a child who was scalded by a hot drink which fell from a teacher´s desk (11,000 pounds).

Further south in Rotherham, local councils have paid out over 57,000 pounds to injured pupils during a five year period. The largest payment was made to a pupil who was injured during a trust building exercise suggested by his teacher (15,000 pounds) when he was dropped by a fellow student. Further payments were made to a pupil who suffered a head injury when struck by a falling shelf (11,000 pounds) and to a girl who broke her wrist during a trampoline accident (1,000 pounds).

Many of these personal injury claims are uncontested and settled out of court and, although schools have a duty of care to children in their protection, a spokesperson from the Campaign for Real Education warned against the dangers of frivolous claims being taken too far. James Wharton, the Conservative MP for Stockton South also added that “People should not feel entitled to claim for any minor incident, though, of course, where there has been a serious injury there needs to be redress.”


Record 58 Million Dollars Birth Injury Settlement Awarded

A jury in Waterbury, Connecticut, has awarded the State´s largest ever compensation amount to an eight year old boy who suffered disabling birth injuries during a Caesarean Section delivery in 2002.

Daniel Jacob D´Attilo of Norwalk, Connecticut, sued his mother´s obstetrician – Dr. Richard Viscarello, of Maternal-Fetal Care and Stamford Hospital – through his parents, Dominic and Cathy, alleging medical malpractice before and during the course of his birth.

It was claimed in the action that the doctor and his staff had failed to determine Daniel´s position within the womb and had delayed performing a Caesarean Section operation as a result. It was further claimed that Dr. Viscarello had not warned Mrs D´Attilo about the risks of a C Section delivery and had failed to have a certified anaesthesiologist or expert in placing an endotracheal tube present during the procedure.

The family alleged that, as a result of the doctor´s negligence, Daniel was starved of oxygen prior to his birth and sustained cerebral palsy as a result. The jury in Waterbury heard that Daniel cannot walk and is incapable of talking. He suffers frequent seizures and cannot sit up by himself or stand. Daniel also requires help when he eats and will require a lifetime of care.

The jury found in Daniel´s favour and awarded him the largest ever award of medical malpractice compensation witnessed in Connecticut.


California Pays $20 Million Compensation to Jaycee Dugard

The Californian Legislature has voted to pay Jaycee Dugard and her two daughters a total of $20 million in compensation over the failure of the state’s parole service to supervise convicted kidnapper and rapist Phillip Garrido.

The settlement had been negotiated after Dugard sued last February the state of California for “psychological, physical and emotional injury; loss of livelihood” during her 18 years in captivity.

Duggard was held in sexual bondage in a hidden backyard compound by Phillip Garrido, who fathered her two children.

The payout avoids a court hearing that would focussed on a long series of serious parole supervision lapses.  These lapses are already well documented in an authorative report by the California Office of the Inspector General.

Garrido had served only 11 years of a 50-year federal sentence for a pervious kidnapping and raped and was under federal supervision when when Jaycee Duggard. Californian parole agents incorrectly classified Garrido as a low-risk offender, ignored a report that indeciated the hidden backyard area where Jaycee Duggard was imprisoned, ignored alerts from Garrido’s CPS anklet, and ignored the presense of a one of Jaycee Duggard’s daughter during a parole visit.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is expected to sign the bill into law to allow the payment to be made.


Birth Injuries Identified as UK’s Main Reason for Increased Medical Negligence Compensation

New statistics have revealed that birth injuries are the single biggest contributor to the increase in medical negligence compensation in the UK.

The highest payments for birth injuries typically involve cases where babies are starved of oxygen at birth. Poor standards of care during maternity has been a common factor in many cases.

The total compensation for the serious medical negligence claims over the past 14 years was £1.8 billion, with over 600 patients receiving over £1 million. Some 314 babies were left with cerebral palsy due to during birth injuries during this period. Two recent awards illustate the problems created by child births, which can lead a child needing lifelong long-term care: a ten year old boy was awarded £7.1 million due to severe brain damage from birth and another child received a settlement of £9.7 million compensation after being left badly disabled by a birth injury.


Bouncy Castle Injury Results in £1 Million Compensation

Sam Harris of Spalding, Lincolnshire, then aged 11, was brain damaged when a boy of 15 kicked him in the head during a somersault. The accident two years ago has left Sam Harris needing constant care.  The resulting child accident injury compensation claim has resulted in a £1 Million compensation payment.

A personal injury case was taken by Janet and David Harris against the parents (Catherine and Timothy Perry) who had hired the bouncy castle on the basis of poor supervision, especially allowing older children by younger children.  High Court Judge David Steel ruled on the question of liability by stating that “The risks of a damaging collision are manifestly enhanced by mixing children of different sizes.”

The household insurance policy of Catherine and Timothy Perry will pay the compensation.

The case was considered something of a landmark case in the UK because it sets the precedent that the person hiring a bouncy castle is liable for injuries suffered by children using the bouncy castle.

A recent UK government survey has estimated that bouncy castles cause up to 3,000 injuries annually in the UK.  If the same rate of injuries applies in Ireland, it implies over 100 injuries in Ireland every year.  A recent bouncy castle injury compensation case in Ireland involved a five-year old girl that broke both wrists on an inflatable slide when she collided with a woman sitting at the bottom of the slide.  A leisure centre in Clonskeagh was ordered in the High Court to pay 20,000 euro in damages.


Maclaren Pushchair Injury Compensation

Buggy manufacturer Maclaren has agreed 50 child injury compensation claim payments in the UK for injuries sustained using their buggies. The settlements are made without any admission of liability and Maclaren has defended the safety of its buggies and said that it is a problem that affects all brands.

The cases follow the recall of one million buggies in the USA following finger amputations for 12 children that got their fingers stuck in the hinges.

One million of the Maclaren  buggies were recalled in the US last year after it was revealed that 12 children had to have fingers amputated due to them getting stuck in the mechanisms hinges.  However, Maclaren did not withdraw the exact same products in Europe.  The Maclaren models withdrawn in the USA include Volo, Triumph, Quest Sport, Quest Mod, Techno XT, Techno XLR, Twin Triumph, Twin Techno, and Easy Traveller.

The decision not to withdraw the products in Ireland was condemned by the Irish National Consumer Agency as unacceptable.

If you or your child have suffered a pushchair injury, you should speak to a solicitor about a child injury claim as soon as possible after you receive appropriate medical treatment.


School Bullying Victim Awarded $290,000 Compensation

In a judgement that is seen as a warning for schools in Australia to protect students from bullying, The Supreme Court has approved a $290,000 compensation payout by the Education Department to a teenage girl that suffered bullying over an 18 month period at Kerang Technical High School.

The bullying including spitting at the girl, putting chewing gum in her hair, throwing chairs at her, and emptying her locker across the floor. The girl finally left the school when a student allegedly threatened to shoot her.

The parents of the girl had frequent discussions about bullying with the school principal, teachers, and even the school chaplain. The school failed to deal with the problem and also failed to establish procedures to stop bullying and discipline guilty students.

It was claimed that the bullying left the girl a physical and emotional wreck.  The injuries claimed were psychological disturbance, panic disorder, insomnia, an eating disorder, stress-related psoriasis and suicidal thoughts.

More injury claims for children are expected from parents of Kerang Technical High School.


Farm Accident Injury Statistics

California Workers’ Compensation Institute has published research that finds that farm accidents cost the California workers’ compensation system $1.46 billion in loss payments, which is 5.5% of Californian Workers’ Compensation claims. The most comment types of injuries included back problems (sprains or strains), minor woulds and skin injuries, and shoulder, arm, knee, and lower leg sprains.

Teagasc the Health and Safety Authority estimate that one-third of Irish workplace deaths take place on farms.  Most accidents involve tractors and  machinery (49%), followed by livestock (15%), falls from a height (12%), and drowning (12%). Unfortunately, the Injuries Board Ireland does not provide information on farm accident claims.


Birth Injury Results in 6.5 Million Pounds Compensation

Rhiannon Hayman of Bridgend, was awarded a compensation package of about £6.5 million arising out of the significant brain damage she suffered at birth in November 1994. Liability for the medical negligence claim was admitted by Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Local Health Board, who also gave an unreserved apology, and there was agreement compensation package.  Hayman, now 15 years old, was born at the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend and suffered a severe lack of oxygen during the procedure. Hayman needs 24-hour care and assistance for the rest of her life.

The settlement is a model for how compensation for injuries that require long term care should be packaged, consisting of a lump sum of more than £2 million and annual payments of between £105,000 to £160,000.


Siblings Awarded $2.5 Million For Toxic Lead Paint Exposure

A Baltimore City brother and sister have recently been awarded $2.5 for their exposure in a West Baltimore house that was sold to the family as safe from lead paint by a nonprofit organisation called City Homes.

The charity pointed out that the home passed city lead inspections before and after the siblings had lived there and also that the charity had been responsive to all of the claimant’s concerns.

However, experts testified that the house was not fully “lead safe” and that both siblings have below average IQs as a result of lead paint poisoning. The jury heard evidence that there had been efforts to reduce the possibility of lead paint exposure, that there was paint chipping and flaking on surfaces, that rats had chewed at the walls and had brought lead dust through the house.

Lead paint was banned in 1978 in the United States by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.  Lead paint poisoning can cause severe and permanent brain damage and developmental problems in children, nervous system injury seizures or convulsions, growth or mental retardation, and comas. In extreme cases, it can cause death.


Toy-Related Injuries and Deaths

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has published a report called Toy-Related Deaths and Injuries Calendar Year 2008 that reveals that there were 19 child deaths and 235,300 toy-related injuries for children under the age of 15.  Riding toys caused the most deaths. Some 47% of the injuries treated in emergency rooms were classified as lacerations, contusions, or abrasions with 45% of these to the head or face.   There has been no statistical reduction in the volume of injuries over previous years, which is somewhat disappointing given a general trend toward safer toys and the recent scares and product recalls of toys made in China.  It should be noted that just because a child was playing with a toy while being injured does not imply a product liability claim.


$9.6 Million Compensation For School Drain Accident

A Queensland, Australia, boy has received AU$9.6m compensation following an accident in a drainage system in school that resulted in catastrophic brain injuries.

Myles Albert Hill was sucked into the drain when boogie boarding (also known as bodyboarding, a form of surfing)  in flood waters on the grounds of The Southport School in Brisbane in February 2003.  The boy was stuck under water in the school’s underground drainage system for eight minutes and suffered severe brain damage that made him unable to talk or use his upper limbs properly.

The Anglican Church was the defendant in the case.  An additional $1.2 million compensation was added for management fees in order to run a trust.