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Wednesday, 27 December 2017 00:00

Parents receive a $17 Million jury verdict for permanent brain injuries that their daughter sustained.

Written by Jonathan Druckman

In a trial that lasted nearly 6 weeks, an eight-member jury deliberated for just 5 hours before reaching the huge sum for damages.

The trial transpired in Judge Katie Gummer’s courtroom in Monmouth County Superior Court earlier in 2017. A 7-year-old girl had suffered from acute pneumonia back in 2008 that ultimately required her to undergo surgery on her lung. However, according to the plaintiff’s complaint, while she was recovering, her breathing tube was prematurely removed. This action by the doctors caused her to suffer from hypoxia, which is a condition where the body or brain is deprived of adequate oxygen supply. As a result of the low oxygen supply, she was left with extensive brain injuries that left her unable to process information. Testimony from the trial indicated that the girl had trouble remembering a three digit locker code that she used at school. The defendants named in the lawsuit were Dr. Charles Dadzie, Meridian Pediatric Associates, and Jersey Shore University Medical Center.

In medical malpractice lawsuits, a doctor and a hospital/medical group can be held liable if they do not act within the standard of medical care. Mistakes or accidents do not automatically amount to medical malpractice. It is up to a plaintiff to prove that the medical treatment that they received fell below an accepted standard of treatment. The defense expert, graduate of Harvard Medical School, stated that the defendants’ decision to remove the tube was within the standard of care. The jury obviously disagreed. The verdict in favor of the plaintiff was broken down as follows:

$2 Million for future lost wages
$5 Million for pain and suffering
$10 Million for medical care and expenses

Due to the extensive brain damage that she suffered, she requires a full-time aide to assist her throughout the day. Conceivably, she may need assistance for the rest of her life, which could explain why the damages award for medical care and expenses is so high in this case. Her parents also allege that the impact to her social life and her prospect to attend college has been drastically altered.
The plaintiff’s attorneys believed that the tactics utilized by the defense attorneys may have contributed to the verdict of this size. He stated that the parents were nice people who were not treated well by the defense. He added, “They tried to undermine the little girl’s condition, they tried to question the little girl’s grades in her special needs classes … they tried to make it out that the little girl wasn’t brain-damaged.”
Although, the jury is never required to explain how they reached a verdict, there are strategic considerations that lawyers should make when going to trial. It is important that defense attorneys respect plaintiffs who suffer from injuries. Undermining the girl’s condition was a big gamble for the defense that did not pay off. These tactics allegedly utilized by the defense team may have painted them in a negative light and adversely affected their credibility with the jury on other issues in the trial. The plaintiffs’ lawyers in this case stated that no pretrial settlement offer was made by the defendants.

If you have a serious injury it is important to speak with an experienced trial lawyer to defend your rights. Mr. Druckman has been designated as a certified civil trial attorney by the New Jersey Supreme Court. A New Jersey attorney that has been certified by the Supreme Court as a New Jersey Certified Civil Trial Attorney is a member in good standing of the New Jersey bar for at least 5 years, been favorably evaluated by judges and other attorneys familiar with his or her work, fulfilled ongoing continuing legal education requirements, passed a written examination covering various aspects of trial practice, and demonstrated a significant level of experience in civil trial law.

If you have been seriously injured, call 908-353-5850 to speak with an attorney today.

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