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MDLinxMichigan Jury Awards Family $120 Million in Malpractice Case

Delayed C-Section Leads to $120 Million Malpractice Award: Implications for Obstetric Care Standards and Legal Precedents

A Michigan jury has awarded $120 million to the family of K’Jon Drake in a medical malpractice case against Henry Ford Health System. The verdict, delivered in March 2024, stems from a 2010 incident where a delayed cesarean section allegedly resulted in K’Jon suffering brain injuries and cerebral palsy. This case highlights the critical importance of timely decision-making in obstetric care and sets a significant precedent for malpractice awards in the state.

Key Points:

  • The lawsuit alleged that a two-hour delay in performing a C-section led to oxygen deprivation, resulting in brain damage and cerebral palsy for K’Jon Drake.
  • K’Jon, now 13, requires round-the-clock care and has a predicted life expectancy of 51 years.
  • The jury found Dr. Leila Hajjar-Nolan and four nurses liable for K’Jon’s injuries.
  • The $120 million award includes compensation for past medical expenses, future care costs, pain and suffering, and potential lost income.
  • The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services joined the lawsuit as an intervening plaintiff due to significant state expenditures on K’Jon’s care.
  • Henry Ford Health System plans to appeal the verdict, stating it does not believe the verdict is consistent with the case facts.
  • The case was filed in 2020, taking advantage of an exception to Michigan’s typical two-year statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases involving birth injuries.
  • Expert witnesses testified that K’Jon will require 24/7 care for life and that the delay in performing the C-section breached care standards.
  • The verdict may serve as a reminder to the obstetrical community about the importance of prompt action in cases of non-reassuring fetal monitor patterns.
  • Malpractice awards exceeding $1 million are becoming more common, particularly in states without damage caps.
  • State legislatures across the country are planning to discuss damage caps, which could affect malpractice case regulations and insurance premiums.

“This injury should have never happened. It was foreseeable and entirely preventable. We hope this verdict serves as a reminder to the obstetrical community that they should act expediently in the presence of non-reassuring fetal monitor patterns.”
— Brian McKeen, attorney for the Drake family

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