Largest Medical Malpractice Verdict In Baltimore: $55 Million Dollar Medical Malpractice Verdict Against Johns Hopkins Hospital
This is the story of Enso Martinez and Rebecca Fielding, who were expectant parents in the Waverly area of Baltimore in March 2010. The couple had planned for a home birth with the help of a midwife. But after several hours in labor, it became clear that Rebecca needed medical assistance.
Rebecca was transported by ambulance to Johns Hopkins Hospital. When she was examined by her doctors, it became clear that this was a serious emergency.
There were obvious signs of fetal distress. These signs required an emergency cesarean delivery. But the medical professionals ignored the signs.
The baby was in distress, and the clock was ticking.
If the doctors and nurses at Johns Hopkins has performed the c-section at that time, their son would have been born a healthy and fully-functional baby.
Instead, they had to wait for more than two hours for the medical team to perform the emergency c-section. And because of this delay, the baby was born without a chance to ever walk or talk. Because of the delay, the baby suffered permanent brain damage due to loss of oxygen, causing seizures, cerebral palsy, multiple mental and physical disabilities.
After the birth, Rebecca could not get the medical staff to tell her why the baby was having seizures. And, as months and years rolled by, Johns Hopkins Hospital refused to take responsibility. They denied that they were responsible, and contended that the medical care that Rebecca received was appropriate.
We took the case to help Rebecca and Enzo receive compensation that would allow them to provide a lifetime of care for their severely and permanently physically and mentally disabled child. Their financial needs were significant, including covering medical expenses not covered by insurance, and building a home that could accommodate the child's needs.
But the hospital said that they were not to going to pay for the injuries. The hospital's attorneys argued that the baby's oxygen deprivation occurred during the stage of labor while the couple was still at home, and therefore it was the couple's fault, and Johns Hopkins Hospital was not to blame.
Unfortunately, birth injuries in hospitals are common, and often result in significant lifelong disabilities. In fact, in 2010 there were 30 incidents of significant birth injuries in Maryland hospitals, and 24 incidents in 2011.
Despite the prevalence and catastrophic nature of each of these cases, hospitals, their insurance companies and lawyers often play the odds that devastated parents, and their lawyers, will not have the stamina and the financial ability to pursue litigation and prevail. And they're right because it's a very expensive and time-consuming process. Birth injury cases often either settle for much less than they should, or the families end up with nothing because they hire law firms that lack the experience or resources to go the distance.
Hospitals, their insurance companies and lawyers also know that, if they fairly compensate one family, the word will get out and it will become more likely that they will be sued by others. They also know that, although many law firms advertise for serious birth injury cases, there are relatively few firms that can take these complex cases through trial. So they play the odds, and either completely deny responsibility, or make low-ball offers that benefit them and the lawyers, but are not adequate compensation nor justice for the families.
We understand this, and take our responsibility to secure justice and the maximum compensation for our clients very seriously. This often times means investing years of our time and significant amounts of money into our cases.
And winning for our clients sometimes involves taking a case all the way through trial and asking a jury to decide. This was such a case.
We took this case to trial. The trial lasted two weeks. In the end, a Baltimore City jury returned a record-setting verdict in Rebecca and Enzo's favor, and awarded them $55 million. This was the highest jury verdict in a case like this.
We believe that couples like Rebecca and Enzo deserve to have their day in court and that they are entitled to compensation. We are grateful for the faith that they had in us to entrust their case, and their future, to our law firm.