In a case tried by Partner Joseph P. Marasco and Associate Mark H. Grimm, a local hospital was found liable for the tragic death of an 11-day old girl. Following a six-year battle and a five-week trial, we are pleased that justice was served. A Superior Court Judge determined that the hospital and the doctors were negligent in the care they provided to the child in an emergency room setting.
Our clients’ daughter was taken by ambulance to an area hospital after she stopped breathing at home. Despite the family’s efforts to communicate that the child had stopped breathing, this critical information was not understood, ignored or discounted by emergency room personnel. The parents speak a different language than hospital personnel, and interpreters were not provided. The child appeared well in the emergency room and was discharged. Twelve hours later, when the baby stopped breathing again, she was returned to the hospital and ultimately declared dead after brain death protocol.
The hospital’s defense centered on the theory that the baby died due to “non-accidental suffocation” by the mother. The hospital attorneys challenged the cause of death and stated that the hospital’s doctors and nurses behaved within the standard of care in obtaining a history and discharging the baby girl.
In reaching his conclusion, the Superior Court Justice balanced the credibility of the baby’s parents and their experts against that of the two doctors and nurses who treated the child. As part of the ruling, the Justice determined that the hospital staff negligently failed to provide the family with an interpreter and that the Spanish speaking parents deserved the chance to provide, with the help of quality translation, a complete history of the child’s symptoms. He found evidence in the hospital record that the family had attempted to explain that the child had stopped breathing. Ultimately, he ruled that the hospital failed to make a proper diagnosis and negligently discharged the child, resulting in her death. The experts’ testimony submitted by Attorneys Marasco and Grimm was deemed more credible and established that the child had met her demise due to a simple, treatable infection. The Superior Court Justice was also impressed with evidence that the hospital corporation had apparently lost or otherwise failed to provide certain medical records which were under their control. The parents were awarded nearly a million dollars.