Legislators Attempt to Limit Attorney Fees in Birth Injury Case
In 2012, Florida attorneys won a $15 million settlement for a couple whose son developed cerebral palsy as a result of negligence during childbirth. Now, an appeals court is trying to determine if lawmakers should be allowed to restrict the lawyer’s fees, despite a preexisting contract.
In 1997, a Florida woman went to Lee Memorial Health System to give birth. Despite her objections, the hospital gave her Pitocin, a commonly used drug to induce labor. Unfortunately, the hospital’s staff failed to monitor the dosage, and the drug caused the woman’s uterus to contract “severely and rapidly.”
The pressure deprived the baby’s brain of blood flow and oxygen, and he was born with severe dystonic cerebral palsy. The boy’s parents sued the hospital, claiming that Lee Memorial had violated its own rules and regulations during the birth, which led to the child’s injury.
LMHS is a healthcare conglomerate with special tax exemptions, so medical malpractice payouts are limited to $200,000 unless the legislature approves a higher amount. The jury initially awarded the couple more than $30 million, but that was eventually reduced to $15 million plus attorney fees.
Lawmakers awarded the full settlement to the couple, but inserted a provision that only $100,000 could go to the family’s attorneys. The lawyers are outraged, saying that the paltry sum will not even begin to cover more than nine years of legal and court fees.
The legal team argues that the Legislature decided to “help [the child] but punish his attorneys.” They claim the provision was just retaliation, because the firm used a public campaign to gather support for the case and encourage the House to hear the couple’s case.
If the original contract was honored, the firm would be entitled to more than $3 million dollars. An appeals court will weigh in on their allegations later this month.
Did a Doctor’s Negligence Cause My Baby’s Injuries?
Giving birth should be one of the happiest moments in a family’s life, but negligence during prenatal care or childbirth can lead to tragedy. Hospitals will try to escape liability or pay the smallest settlement possible, but the right attorney can give you the tools you need to build the strongest case possible and win.
If a doctor’s negligence led to your child’s disability, the attorneys at Shapiro Law Group can help you get justice and obtain crucial funds so your child can receive the best care possible. Schedule a free consultation today to discuss the details of your case.
[Did You Know: The CDC estimates that around 10,000 babies will be born with cerebral palsy in the U.S. this year.]
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