Atlanta Medical Malpractice Retrial Worth a Potential $50 Million Commences in Cobb County

According to the Daily Report, at the center of a medical malpractice retrial in Cobb County, Georgia, is whether an obstetrician will be held liable for a baby born with brain damage in 2008. The baby in question, Tucker Sutton, also called “Mighty Tuck” by his loved ones, sustained the injuries when he became trapped in his mother’s birth canal for 1 minute and 58 seconds – what would have been a death sentence to most. Baby Tucker, however, survived–although he is likely to deal with the resulting health complications for the remainder of his life. In what the news medium has dubbed a “battle of expert witnesses,” experts are expected to debate whether severe brain damage could have been avoided if the defendant obstetrician had delivered the child sooner and by cesarean section.

The previous case, which was tried in 2011, ended in a mistrial “with jurors reportedly favoring the defendant hospital and hung on the defendant obstetrician.” In that first trial, the plaintiff parents requested damages of $50 million – estimated lifetime costs associated with the child’s care. The hospital settled for an undisclosed amount, leaving the doctor as the only defendant in this case. Despite the settlement, and at the insistence of the obstetrician’s counsel, however, the jury will be allowed to apportion fault to the hospital, resulting in a decrease in the amount of any damages the doctor might have to pay.

According to the defendant, the plaintiffs’ birth plan called for a vaginal delivery and there was no viable medical reason to change the plan. The plaintiffs, on the other hand, believe a cesarean section could have mitigated their son’s injuries. Upon hearing this, Georgia Medical malpractice attorneys immediately recognize that the crux of the problem is that C-sections in and of themselves, are not inherently risk-free. In fact, the defendant’s attorney did not hesitate to point this out, telling the jury that the doctor did his part. “”C-sections are not risk-free,” the defendant’s attorney stated. “They carry with them their own complications, especially when infection is present like with this mom.” Plaintiffs argue, however, that after the vaginal birth commenced and it became clear there would be complications, the defendant’s inaction and purported negligence increased the risks for injury, which is why the doctor’s actions are being called into question in the form of a medical malpractice claim.

Medical malpractice occurs when a medical professional or facility fails to abide by the established standard of care, resulting in the injury and sometimes even the death of a patient. The term “standard of care” refers to the set of standards and practices generally accepted by medical professionals when treating a person who suffers from a particular malady and can vary according to region and other factors unique to a patient, such as age. In Georgia, an injured party typically has a period of two years from the date of injury or death within which to file suit against the offending provider or facility, although the date of injury of death is not necessarily the same as the date of the incident that ultimately caused the injury or death. This two-year time period is referred to as the “statute of limitations.”

Things can become a trifle complex when trying to suss out the date of actual injury, especially because the state of Georgia also has a “statute of repose” which acts to further limit the time a potential plaintiff has to file suit against a medical professional. Georgia’s repost statute gives a plaintiff only up to five years to file a suit after the incident that caused the injury occurs. Because the waters of medical malpractice can be difficult to navigate, even when it comes to determining the amount of damages to demand, it is important to seek professional legal assistance. It will certainly be interesting to see the outcome of this case, especially in terms of any final award amounts.

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