Posted on Apr 18, 2006
Jury awards $2.1M in child's death
Boy, 4, died after treatment at Chambersburg Hospital
By VICKY TAYLOR
FRANKLIN COUNTY — More than five years of legal wrangling ended last week when a Franklin County jury awarded $2.1 million to the parents of a 4-year-old boy who died in 1999.
It tops a $1.5 million award to the estate of a new mother who died in 1998 a month after delivering a healthy baby girl at Chambersburg Hospital. The hospital and a physician split the cost of settling that lawsuit.
Summit Health, which owns and operates Chambersburg Hospital, will bear the entire cost of this month's jury decision in favor of the parents of Christian F. Jessen.
The child died June 15, 1999, at Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Hershey, after being treated in the emergency room at Chambersburg Hospital four days earlier.
Attorneys for the boy's parents, Christian A. Jessen of Chambersburg and Ellen Rose of Shippensburg, filed the suit Oct. 10, 2000. They allege the hospital and emergency room employees were negligent in treating the child after he was brought to the emergency room suffering from what was diagnosed as pneumonia and related conditions.
When the case finally was brought to trial this month, Chambersburg Hospital and anesthesiologist Yin Keong Ngeow were listed as defendants.
Seven court days were set aside for the trial, but it took eight days for testimony, closing arguments and the jury verdict to be rendered.
The jury found the hospital and emergency room staff negligent in the child's treatment and ruled that negligence to be "a factual cause" leading to his death.
Jurors also found Ngeow negligent in his treatment of the boy, but assigned 100 percent of the fault to the hospital.
The suit alleged that hospital personnel waited too long to recommend that the child be transferred to Hershey Medical Center and that Ngeow erred when he inserted a breathing tube down the boy's esophagus instead of his trachea.
According to court records, the child's breathing and heart stopped during the process and hospital personnel, under Ngeow's direction, were unable to resuscitate him until a specialist arrived and intervened, restoring the boy's heart rate, pulse and blood pressure.
The jury award included $500,000 for mental and physical pain and suffering, $1.4 million for lost earnings of the child, $100,000 for the amount the child could have contributed to the support of his parents and $100,000 for loss of services, physical comfort and society.
Hospital officials and lawyers for the hospital and the family did not return calls for comment.