In 2014, Deandre and Daniel Bebeau Sr., both petty officers in the Navy, were stationed in Guam. Deandre was pregnant and gave birth to their son at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Guam. During the delivery, things went wrong, and the child suffered severe and permanent brain damage.
According to the complaint, Deardre Bebeau arrived at the hospital with contractions starting around midnight. Her water broke at 6 a.m. and she was admitted about 7 a.m. The fetal heart rate at the time of admission showed the fetus was “well oxygenated.” Shortly after, a doctor found fecal stool in the amniotic fluid.
After administering drugs to the mother to encourage labor, the baby was born at almost 2 a.m., described as “floppy and nonvigorous.” The onsite pediatrician used a bulb suctioning instead of using a meconium aspirator because the tool had fallen behind the bed.
After 11 more minutes, the anesthesia provider suctioned out the endotracheal tube and breathing improved. The child was transferred to the Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu where an MRI revealed “a profound brain injury compatible with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy.”
As a result, the child suffered permanent neurological damage and cerebral palsy. The family filed a medical malpractice claim against the government. Eventually, the government settled the case for $11.5 million.
If the Birth Injury Happened in Virginia the Family Would Have Recovered Less
The parents and child now live in Virginia Beach. However, if the accident had occurred while they were living in Virginia, they may have recovered significantly less in damages. Virginia is one of many states with a cap on medical malpractice damages. Under Code of Virginia § 8.01-581.15, any verdict against a healthcare provider for malpractice shall not exceed $2.45 million (for acts of malpractice that occur between July 1, 2020, through June 30, 2021). The amount increases by $500,000 each year until it maxes out at $3 million after July 1, 2031.
Statutory Caps on Noneconomic Damages
Some states, including Maryland, have a maxim award for noneconomic damages. Noneconomic damages in a personal injury claim include the non-pecuniary losses and harms, including pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of quality of life.
Under Courts and Judicial Proceedings § 3-2A-05, an award or verdict under this subtitle for noneconomic damages may not exceed $875,000 for acts occurring on or after January 1, 2020 (The cap on non-economic damages increases $15,000 each year).
States Without Non-Economic Damage Caps
Some states do not have a cap on malpractice or noneconomic damages. In Pennsylvania, noneconomic damage caps were found to be unconstitutional, except for claims against the state or local government. However, there is a cap on punitive damages in medical malpractice claims, including for birth injury claims.
Under MCARE § 1303.505, “Except in cases alleging intentional misconduct, punitive damages against an individual physician shall not exceed 200% of the compensatory damages awarded.”
Birth Injury Lawyers
If you believe your infant was a victim of medical negligence, it is important to see medical experts about your child's wellbeing. It is also important to contact a birth injury medical malpractice attorney representing clients in your state. A birth injury lawsuit can help you get the compensation you need to care for your loved one. Contact us for help today online or call (800) 529-6162 today.