A federal appeals court has upheld a $29 million verdict for a family that filed a medical malpractice lawsuit over negligent treatment at a government-funded clinic that allegedly caused their son to develop cerebral palsy.
The cerebral palsy malpractice lawsuit was originally filed by the parents Christian Arroyo, who was born in 2003 at the Erie Family Health Center. He is a spastic quadriplegic due to cerebral palsy, which his parents’ lawsuit alleges was caused by a brain infection that should have been detected and treated.
According to the complaint, after he was born, Arroyo suffered from an infection for 12 hours, which was not properly treated because the clinic staff failed to diagnose the problem. Although the boy allegedly showed every symptom of a brain infection, including an inability to see, the medical staff missed those signs and failed to treat Arroyo with antibiotics, which the family claimed may have prevented him from developing cerebral palsy.
At trial, the family won the cerebral palsy lawsuit against the clinic last year, receiving an award of $29.1 million. Because the clinic is funded by the federal government, the case was against the United States government, which attempted to get the verdict thrown out on appeal.
The U.S. government argued that Arroyo’s parents filed the case after the statute of limitations, based on when they reasonably should have known that their son’s brain damage was caused by a medical mistake. However, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit rejected that argument last week, upholding the verdict.
Cerebral palsy can be caused by a brain injury that occurs before, during or shortly after birth. If the brain of a baby is deprived of oxygen, it can result in irreversible damage that leaves the child with developmental problems, loss of motor functions and other life-long injuries and disabilities associated with cerebral palsy.
Although cerebral palsy can occur without a medical mistake, when the exercise of the proper standards of medical care could have prevented the child’s brain from being deprived of oxygen, medical malpractice lawsuits over cerebral palsy are often filed to obtain compensation for the child.