A Marion County jury has awarded a Westfield woman and her daughter a $3.7 million judgment in a malpractice case arising from the girl's troubled birth.
Law limits damages
Indiana law limits medical malpractice damages on each claim of injury or death to $1.25 million. The doctor or hospital at fault pays the first $250,000, and the Indiana Patients' Compensation Fund covers the rest, up to the limit. That means a jury's award of $3.7 million to Robin Lynch and her daughter, Shelby, on three claims will be cut to $1.95 million, according to their attorney, Mike Miller.
The jury's judgments, with any reductions:
$3 million: Against Dr. Sally Bradley for Shelby Lynch. Reduced to $1.25 million.
$500,000: Against St. Vincent Hospital for Robin Lynch.
$200,000: Against Bradley for Robin Lynch.
Source: Indiana Code 34-18-14-3
Robin Lynch's lawsuit argued that her daughter, 6-year-old Shelby, will live with cerebral palsy the rest of her life because of delays in the delivery that deprived her brain of oxygen. She was born via C-section in October 2001 in St. Vincent Hospital on Indianapolis' Far Northside.
Indiana limits medical malpractice awards, so the judgment on the three claims will be reduced to just under $2 million, said Mike Miller, the family's attorney. Most will be paid by the Indiana Patient's Compensation Fund.
But he hailed the Marion Circuit Court jury's verdict on Monday, one of the largest in recent memory in Central Indiana. Dr. Sally Bradley was assigned the bulk of the damages, with a $500,000 judgment against the hospital.
Earlier, a state medical review panel had issued an advisory finding of no malpractice on two of the three claims.
"We are very gratified that the jury decided not to follow the panel's opinion," Miller said Wednesday night.
Lynch is the principal of Oak Trace Elementary in Westfield.
A summary issued by Miller's firm said Shelby began showing signs of fetal distress while her mother, who was bleeding, waited for a C-section to be performed. The girl didn't start breathing until 12 minutes after her birth. Robin Lynch also developed a life-threatening bleeding disorder.
Three days later, Lynch went back into surgery for removal of a sponge left behind during the C-section. Miller said the review panel -- made up of physicians -- did rule in her favor on that claim.
During a five-day trial that began last week, Miller asked the jury to hold Bradley liable for the complications during labor and delivery and the hospital liable for the sponge mistake.
Bradley, who is affiliated with Women's Health Partnership, could not be reached for comment late Wednesday.
St. Vincent Health spokesman Johnny Smith Jr. issued a statement:
"Our sympathies are with the family who had to endure this regrettable situation. Since this incident occurred, we have implemented various initiatives and policies to improve patient care and standardized our patient safety efforts.
"Our priorities will be to continue to identify opportunities to enhance our quality of care such as partnering with local and national organizations to share best practices around patient safety."