Go to navigation Go to content

Baby dies in-utero. Mom can bring case for her own emotional distress. Just how much is mom's emotional distress worth in New York?

The New York Times is reporting a new facet of medical malpractice law in New York: stillbirth emotional distress. In 2004, the NY Court of Appeals allowed awards for this new area of litigation. Two new cases illustrate the marginal ground New York law now treads.

The first case stems from Brooklyn, where 39-year-old Lucia Ferreira was awarded $1 million. She had suffered abdominal pain when she was eight months pregnant. She visited Wyckoff Heights Medical Center three times, but was sent home with just a painkiller. Her baby's head was stuck in the birth canal during labor at home, and the baby lost its life. The award was granted in 2005, and appeals have lasted until this February.

The second case involves 24-year-old Vivian Acevedo of the Bronx, who lost her baby after Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center missed fetal distress and delayed an emergency C-section. Ms. Acevedo  has turned down a $500,000 settlement. The hospital is considering $750,000, and doubts that the $1million her lawyers want will be granted in court.

These cases will establish precedent in New York. Is Brooklyn's $1million verdict too large of a payout for other jurisdictions? New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation on behalf of Lincoln hospital thinks so. Ms. Acevedo's lawyer thinks a cheaper value will not offer enough of a deterrent for future reckless medical behavior. In the Brooklyn case, the hospital compared the case to dog attacks in NY and out-of-state stillbirth rewards, which reached $200,000. Ms. Ferreira's lawyers argued analogies like a mistaken shooting for $3 million or a passenger's nine-minute horror before a plane crash, which collected $1 million.

As a practicing medical malpractice, wrongful death, and personal injury attorney in New York, I deal with medical errors like these every day. If you have experienced related problems, I want you to pick up the phone and call me. I can help.

If you would like more information about how medical malpractice wrongful death cases work in the state of New York, I encourage you to explore my educational website. If you have legal questions,  I urge you to pick up the phone and call me at 516-487-8207 or by e-mail at [email protected] to answer your questions. That's what I do every day. I welcome your call.