A Massachusetts jury has found that two doctors at Children’s Hospital Boston were guilty of medical malpractice that caused the death of a 3-year-old boy, and awarded the parents $15 million. The boy died a year and a half after he underwent surgery for a birth defect. The child was born with a severe congenital heart defect called Tetralogy of Fallot, a complicated but treatable birth defect that affects the flow of blood through the heart. He underwent eight procedures, 7 of which were cardiac catheterizations, before coming to Children’s for another catheterization procedure to widen his arteries. After the Boston procedure, the child suffered a seizure. A CAT scan revealed that that contrast dye, which is used during the procedure to better see the patient’s anatomy, had leaked into his brain. Later, an MRI revealed that a piece of metal had lodged in the boy’s brain, probably from a medical instrument. When the child left the hospital, he was unable to walk or speak. The jury awarded damages of $5 million for the child’s pain and suffering, $5 million for the parents’ loss of their child, and $5 million for the child’s wrongful death. A copy of the article regarding the case can be found here.
According to the lawyers involved in the case, the parties reached a “high-low” settlement prior to the jury’s verdict. Such settlements can be structured in many different ways, but usually it means that the plaintiff will get a certain amount of money guaranteed (the low) in exchange for agreeing that no matter how high the verdict is the defendants will not have to pay more than a particular amount (the high). Usually, the plaintiff gets the low even if he/she loses the case. But sometimes the settlement agreements are structured so that the defendant only pays the money if the plaintiff wins the case. If the verdict is between the high and low, then the plaintiff gets that amount. These agreements can be beneficial to both sides to protect each side from their worst case scenario – in other words, it protects the plaintiff from losing the case completely and it protects the defendant(s) from a large verdict.
As an experienced Baltimore, Maryland medical malpractice lawyer, I have handled a number of medical malpractice cases involving sick children, and have done a number of high-low settlements. They are extremely complicated and require expertise that most general personal injury attorneys do not have. To see some of the cases I have handled, click here.