Medical Malpractice and Personal Injury Law Blog

Miami Family Awarded $33.8 Million In Birth Injury Suit Against the Federal Government

Posted by Briggs Bedigian | Apr 20, 2017 | 0 Comments

A Miami couple was awarded a whopping $33.8 million after the jury found that a physician at a federal health clinic failed to take the proper measures during the delivery of a baby boy.

According to mother Marla Dixon and father Earl Reese-Thornton Sr.'s lawsuit, the attending physician failed to order a cesarean section when it was medically necessary, which led to the infliction of irreversible brain damage to their newborn. Dixon was a patient at Jessie Trice Community Health Center in Miami Gardens and was under the care of on-call physician Dr. Ata Atogho. The facility renders services to undocumented and uninsured patients through federal funds. When she was transported to the North Shore Medical Center for delivery, Dixon was coached through her delivery with experienced obstetrician Yolanda McCray alongside Dr. Atogho.

During the four-day trial, testimonies from McCray and Reese-Thornton affirmed that the 19-year-old had requested a cesarean section on multiple occasions throughout the delivery. They claim she was screaming, “just cut me!” The attending physicians had conflicting accounts of the events that transpired, as Atogho argued he offered the mother a cesarean section and McCray vouched that one was not offered. McCray went on to testify that Atogho had completely ignored Dixon's pleads while directing her to “keep pushing.” U.S. District Judge Robert Scola provided a statement referencing McCray for her testimony in his verdict, stating that her testimony was crucial in helping him come to a decision.

“McCray also would have noted the refusal in her notes and her neonate treatment report would have noted the mother's refusal to have a C-section,” Scola said. “When McCray saw this note, she asked Dr. Atogho why he hand-wrote in the hospital chart, after the fact, ‘declined,' indicating that Dixon refused a C-section when Dixon never declined the C-section. Dr. Atogho responded that it was Dixon's first baby and she didn't need a C-section. McCray testified that the note Dr. Atogho added to the chart was a lie.”

In addition to McCray's testimony, the judge stated that Atogho's failure to fill out an “against medical service” document in regard to Dixon's alleged C-section refusal also contributed to his findings. However, the doctor's actions taken after the baby was delivered were the ones that deeply concerned Scola. Apparently, immediately after discovering the baby had sustained catastrophic injuries, Atogho left Dixon's bedside to deliver another baby and have a full fledged conversation with his financial advisor.

Judge Scola awarded Dixon $3.3 million and gave Reese-Thornton $1.1 million for the family's pain and suffering. The boy, who is now three years old, was awarded $21.7 million for economic damages and $7.6 million for his pain and suffering.

Doctors claim that the boy is only expected to live an additional 9 to 12 years.

If your family has experienced a childbirth injury while in the care of a medical professional or staff, you may be entitled to compensation. Attorneys Charles Gilman and Briggs Bedigian are devoted to winning your case while you cope with your injuries. Call their office at (800) 529-6162 or contact them online.

About the Author

Briggs Bedigian

H. Briggs Bedigian (“Briggs”) is a founding partner of Gilman & Bedigian, LLC.  Prior to forming Gilman & Bedigian, LLC, Briggs was a partner at Wais, Vogelstein and Bedigian, LLC, where he was the head of the firm's litigation practice.  Briggs' legal practice is focused on representing clients involved in medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. 

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