Sunday, 16 of December of 2018

Family Denied Fair Compensation After Son Has Arm Permanently Paralyzed During Birth

Jurors specified that $20 million was due for pain and suffering, but Maryland law required the judge to automatically reduce that amount to $650,000.

By Rick Shapiro, Birth Injury Attorney in Virginia

When a doctor assisting with the delivery of a boy in Greenbelt, Maryland (MD), twisted and applied undue force on the baby’s neck after the head emerged from the birth canal, the newborn sustained nerve damage that left his left arm permanently paralyzed. The damaged arm is also visibly shorter and less developed than the other one.

Six years after the botched delivery caused the boy the irreversible condition called shoulder dystocia, his parent succeeded in winning a $20.9 million civil jury award. Jurors specified that $20 million of the judgment represented compensation for pain and suffering, but Maryland law required the judge to automatically reduce that amount to $650,000.

The Virginia Birth Injury Attorneys’ Perspective

The family’s medical malpractice attorney, George S. Tolley III, told Maryland Lawyer that lowering the family’s noneconomic damage award was unjust. Because the boy will struggle all his life with an injury a more gentle or attentive doctor could have prevented, reducing the pain and suffering award to comply with an arbitrary cap treats the child unfairly.

I’ve argued elsewhere that caps on personal injury and medical malpractice awards violate plaintiffs’ constitutional rights. On July 31, 2012, the Missouri Supreme Court agreed with that conclusion, ruling that a 2005 state “law violated the right to a jury trial granted by the state constitution by capping noneconomic damages at $350,000 in lawsuits alleging that health care providers were at fault for injuries or deaths.”

Virginia recently raised its cap on noneconomic, pain and suffering awards, and several other states have revised or eliminated limits on jury awards. It may be too late for the boy with the paralyzed arm and his family, but I hope Maryland will soon remove its own unjust, unconstitutional malpractice cap.

Potentially Helpful Info

If you or a family member has been injured, paralyzed or made sick by a surgical error or a doctor’s negligence, you can begin to learn about your legal rights and options for pursing compensation by downloading this free report.

You can read about how lawyers with my Virginia-based personal injury law firm have helped families of children who suffered shoulder dystocia by clicking here.

Have Questions? Check Out our Firm’s FAQs.

You can find an extensive library of attorneys’ answers to frequently asked questions about medical malpractice, birth injury and surgical error cases.


About the Editors: The VA-NC medical malpractice attorneys at Shapiro, Lewis & Appleton include medical and surgical malpractice lawyers licensed in both Virginia and Carolina. Our medical/hospital malpractice focus on personal injury and accident law and have experience handling medical malpractice cases involving hospital and doctors’ mistakes, as well as nursing home abuse and neglect. Check out our case results to see our track record of success in medical malpractice lawsuits, and also be sure to read our free medical malpractice reports Top 10 Tips From a Medical Malpractice Insider and Top 5 Surgical Errors. Rick Shapiro and James Lewis have been listed among the Best Lawyers in America since 2008. They, along with fellow attorney Randy Appleton, have also been named Virginia Super Lawyers since 2010, an honor fewer than 5 percent of outstanding attorneys receive.