A jury has awarded a Chicago mother over $100 million dollars in a medical malpractice case involving a severe birth injury. The record-breaking verdict will allow the victim's mother to remove him from a care facility and bring him home.
In 2014, Tequila Snow visited the Emergency Room of the West Suburban Medical Center in Oak Park, Illinois, with fears of pregnancy complications. She was 34 weeks pregnant and had begun to suspect there might be an issue with her baby. She informed the medical team that the baby was not moving as he normally had been. Despite the severity of the concerns, the two staff members who initially triaged her complaint, a nurse and an ultrasound technician, failed to alert a physician.
In addition to failing to alert a doctor, staff in the Emergency Room failed to properly monitor her baby's oxygen levels by ignoring the results of her external fetal monitoring strips. This continued for six hours. Ms. Snow eventually went into labor and gave birth to a baby boy she named Gerald Junior.
From the time Ms. Snow visited the Emergency Room to the time she gave birth, Gerald Junior was not receiving adequate oxygen to his brain. The damage this oxygen deprivation caused was catastrophic. Gerald requires 24-hour care. Now five years old, he can not walk nor speak and is not expected to gain the ability to do either over the course of his lifetime. Medical experts at the medical malpractice trial against West Suburban Medical Center testified that if a physician had been alerted to the status of the baby and performed a timely emergency C-section, Gerald would have been born with no birth defects.
Ms. Snow attempted to care for her son at home but eventually took Gerald to Misericordia Home, a facility that helps provide care for people with mild to severe developmental disabilities because she reached a point where she could no longer afford his care.
The jury found in favor of Ms. Snow and Gerald, awarding her $101 million. Despite the fact that this record-breaking verdict was reached, the parties had agreed prior to trial to cap any awarded damages. Due to this agreement, Ms. Snow will receive $50 million.
West Suburban Medical Center told local news outlets that, while the facility was "obviously disappointed" with the jury's verdict, the hospital has no plans to file an appeal.
Ms. Snow has stated that the verdict will allow her to remove her son from Misericordia Home and provide in-home care for him. "He is all I have, and I'm going now to let him know that he's coming home very soon,” she said.