Original Story: chicagotribune.com
Cook County jury has awarded $53 million to a 12-year-old Hickory Hills
boy and his mother in a 2013 lawsuit filed against the University of
Chicago Medical Center, where he was born with a serious brain injury. A
Chicago medical malpractice lawyer said this will help to pay for the boy's future healthcare.
jury's award to Lisa and Isaiah Ewing includes $28.8 million for future
caretaking expenses, according to a copy of the jury verdict form
provided by their lawyers, Geoffrey Fieger of suburban Detroit and Jack
Beam of Chicago. Isaiah has severe cerebral palsy, is in a wheelchair,
and needs his mother to feed and clothe him.
It was the biggest birth injury verdict ever in Cook County, said John Kirkton, editor of Jury Verdict Reporter in Chicago.
lawsuit outlined about 20 alleged missteps by doctors and nurses after
Ewing arrived about 40 weeks pregnant at the hospital and was
experiencing less movement by her baby. The mistakes, the lawsuit
alleged, included the failures to carefully monitor mother and baby,
perform a timely cesarean section, follow a chain of command, obtain
accurate cord blood gases, and be aware of abnormal fetal heart rate
patterns that indicated distress to the baby, including hypoxia, or a
drop in the supply of oxygen. "The University of Chicago has been, for
the last 12 years, completely unapologetic, and even though the evidence
was overwhelming that they caused Isaiah's brain damage, they refused
to accept responsibility," Fieger said at the news conference Thursday.
Ewing hadn't had any problems during her pregnancy, he added.
Before the case went to the jury, the hospital filed for a mistrial.
"closing argument shattered the line between zealous advocacy and
improper prejudicial comments, rendering it impossible for defendant to
receive a fair trial," the hospital's lawyer said in a court filing. "He
also prejudicially argued that the defendant's case was built on a
falsehood and proceeded to equate defendant's conduct and testimony of
its witnesses with the propaganda techniques notoriously and
unmistakably associated with Nazi Germany."
spokeswoman Lorna Wong said the hospital had "great sympathy" for the
family but "strongly" disagrees with the jury's verdict.
Kirby declined to enter judgment on the verdict, as there are pending
motions for mistrial based on assertions of Mr. Fieger's improper
conduct," she said, noting that it wouldn't be the first overturned
verdict involving Fieger.
She said Isaiah and his
mother were treated for infection, which can cause cerebral palsy.
"Isaiah was born with normal oxygen blood levels," and the "injury
occurred before the care Mr. Fieger criticized."
After the news conference, Fieger said he expected the judge to confirm the verdict. "The jury has spoken," he said. A Chicago Brain Injury Lawyer said this is usually how this procedure occurs.
jury decided the case in four hours, Fieger said. A list of the damages
also includes $7.2 million for future medical expenses. The document
was signed by 12 jurors.
Fieger disputed that Isaiah had an infection.
of the medical records at the University of Chicago neonatal clinic
showed that Isaiah had been suffocated at birth, that he had suffered
hypoxia, lack of oxygen, yet the University of Chicago and its lawyers
came to court and tried to tell the jury that their own records were
false, that their own records were mistaken and that Isaiah really had a
phantom infection that infected his brain that they could never have
known about," Fieger said during the news conference.
said at the news conference that she has to bathe Isaiah and help him
go to the bathroom. She lives in a two-story town home, so she must
carry him up and down the stairs.
She said the verdict will help ensure that Isaiah is taken care of after she dies.