$9M Settlement For Boy’s Cerebral Palsy from Hawaii Hospital

January 30, 2014

Attorneys for a Virginia boy with cerebral palsy say his family and the military hospital in Hawaii where he was born have reached a tentative $9 million settlement.

The amount, put on the record in federal court in Honolulu on Monday, is subject to final approval by the U.S. Department of Justice, said Loretta Sheehan, one of the family’s attorneys.

According to the family’s lawsuit, Noah Whitney was born in 2010 at Tripler Army Medical Center with “catastrophic brain injury” because of medical negligence.

Allegations in the lawsuit include failing to respond appropriately to signs and symptoms of uterine rupture and taking too long to perform a cesarean section. Laura Whitney arrived at the hospital on Sept. 7, 2010 with severe lower abdominal pain at about 35 weeks of pregnancy. The pregnancy was closely monitored because of previous miscarriages and the complicated birth of her first child, Evan.

Medical MalpracticeThe mother “was at risk for uterine rupture in connection with future pregnancies, including her pregnancy with Noah,” according to the lawsuit filed in July 2012. The lawsuit alleges that there was a “failure to promptly notify and consult the obstetrician who had been managing” the pregnancy.

The lawsuit blamed the hospital for Noah’s severe brain injury and said he “will require 24 hour per day care for the remainder of his life.”

A Tripler spokeswoman declined to comment. The assistant U.S. Attorney representing the government didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Sheehan said $5 million will be paid as a lump-sum and the remaining $4 million will be paid over time for the remainder of Noah’s life.

The family has since moved to Virginia.

University of Hawaii law school professor Hazel Beh noted that medical malpractice settlements are a way for consumers to get information in an industry where information isn’t easily accessible. But the settlements are often confidential, except when a government institution is involved.

“It probably skews the perception for sure because you’ve got private entities that can keep it private,” she said. “Certainly, the public has interests in these suits, as taxpayers.”

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