$7.2 million verdict plus interest for brain-injured child

An Essex County jury has awarded a verdict of $7.2 million, including interest, to a severely brain-damaged seven-year-old North Shore girl and her parents. The girl’s mother entered the hospital shortly after midnight, in labor with her third child. The defendant obstetrician was informed by the nurse on duty of abnormalities in the baby’s heart rate and meconium in the amniotic fluid, both suggestive of a baby in distress. He declined to come to the hospital, and in fact, ordered the heart monitor removed. When he finally saw the patient at 7 a.m., the baby’s condition had significantly deteriorated. He failed to respond to continued signs of distress, and turned the mother’s care over to a covering physician. The covering physician ordered testing to confirm the distress, and then delivered the baby by emergency Cesarean section. By that time, the girl had suffered severe brain damage due to lack of oxygen. She suffers from a seizure disorder, requires tube feeding, and has the mental and physical abilities of an infant.