After eight days of testimony and fifteen hours of deliberations, an Atlanta jury this week awarded $45.8 million to a woman who suffered catastrophic and irreversible brain damage just days after giving birth. Three days after her child’s birth, the woman suffered a heart attack while undergoing x-rays. Although she was able to be resuscitated, she was without oxygen for approximately ten minutes and suffered an anoxic brain injury that has rendered her unable to care for herself in any meaningful way.
In the medical malpractice lawsuit, the woman’s lawyers claimed that the heart attack was caused by the healthcare providers’ failure to properly monitor her blood pressure in light of preeclampsia, combined with pulmonary edema, also knowns as fluid in the lungs. The defense took the position at trial that the woman’s decline was more likely explained by pulmonary embolism – a blood clot that breaks off from one area of the body and travels to the lung – than pulmonary edema, and that what happened to the woman could not have been foreseen by the doctors who were charged with caring for her. The Plaintiffs countered that the doctors failed to properly address the woman’s erratic blood pressure and allowed a dangerous buildup of fluid in her lungs that caused her heart to stop beating.
The jury’s award included $9.8 million in economic damages for the woman’s future medical care needs and $18 million each to the woman and her husband for their pain, suffering, mental anguish and emotional distress.