Family awarded $23.9 million for tort claim related to child’s brain damage.
A jury has awarded $23.9 million to Anna Scott and Zachery Burke who filed a tort claim against Jefferson Healthcare alleging the center’s negligence led to their daughter being born with brain damage. The claim was filed on the family’s behalf by the Luvera Law Firm of Seattle and said medical personnel missed critical signs with electronic heartbeat monitoring which would have shown distress. As a result, the couple says, their daughter, Lana, had her umbilical cord wrapped around her neck which impacted her brain development. The claim stated, “medical providers used a fetal heart monitor during delivery but failed to realize it was picking up Scott’s heartbeat, not the baby’s, for most of the last three hours before Lana was born.”
“This just wasn’t negligence, it was grossly negligent,” said Robert Gellatly of Luvera Law Firm. “This was so clear, and it should have been known. I think Jefferson Healthcare betrayed not only this patient’s trust but now it’s the public trust because it’s a public health district.”
“There were many opportunities to see that Lana was in trouble, but the medical team missed every one of them,” Scott said. “Now Lana will have to live with the consequences of the Jefferson Healthcare providers’ poor decisions for the rest of her life.”
Jefferson Healthcare CEO Mike Glenn said, “the hospital strongly disagrees with the verdict and plans to file an appeal.” He added, “The entire Jefferson Healthcare team was deeply saddened to learn of the lawsuit brought against our hospital by the Burke family regarding the delivery of care provided by our obstetrics team in January of 2014 for Lana Burke…We have a long-established track record of successfully delivering more than 100 babies each year and for being the community’s sole provider of comprehensive obstetrics services.”
Lana, now six years old, has brain function impairment, “speech and language deficits and impaired motor skills,” according to records. She cannot complete basic daily tasks such as dressing and eating by herself. The jury’s award for Lana was “$10 million in necessary non-medical expenses, $6.25 million for non-economic damages, $2 million for medical care, treatment and services, and $1 million for lost earnings and earnings capacity.”
Gellatly said GE Healthcare, which manufactures the heart monitoring equipment, “was dismissed from the case,” settling with the couple for an amount “between $1 million and $5 million, depending on allocation of the percentage of fault.”
“[The doctor] said she knew there was a cord around the neck, even though that wasn’t reflected in the records,” Gellatly said. “If you look at the tracing and there’s an abrupt change, you can compare the maternal heart rate to the fetal heart rate. It was like an air traffic controller monitoring a plane at 3,000 feet, but the real plane was in the clouds.” Gellatly added that experts testified a change showed a “very concerning tracing for the baby.”
“Lana is such a blessing in our lives and has the most beautiful smile and heart, but she will need care for the rest of her life, and this verdict ensures she has a financial safety net to sustain her for decades to come,” Scott said.