Jessica Chapman, a minor v University of California Board of Regents dba University of California Irvine
Dr. Fagel achieved a $5,900,000 verdict on the behalf of a young girl who now suffers from cerebral palsy
after nearly suffocating to death at her mother’s side shortly after her birth. The minor plaintiff and her twin brother were both delivered by Cesarean section without serious complications. The mother was then given two medications, including morphine, to relieve pain from the Cesarean delivery. As a result, she was extremely sedated while she was breast-feeding the babies. Hospital nurses negligently left her alone with the minor plaintiff at around 5 a.m. and she fell asleep on her side, smothering the newborn. Hospital nurses later found the baby in total arrest and spent 10 minutes resuscitating her. As a result of prolonged oxygen deprivation, the baby sustained traumatic brain damage and the consequent cerebral palsy. The child currently experiences a wide array of difficulties, including vision and hearing problems, a seizure disorder and the inability to chew, swallow, blink or use her arms and legs.
The defendant medical center claimed that the nurses did nothing wrong and that another medical condition, perhaps a genetic abnormality, caused the child to stop breathing. Furthermore, the defense contended that the nurses were not required to constantly monitor the mother because she had successfully nursed the twins several times before and they both appeared healthy. However, Dr. Fagel proved that the medical center’s staff was indeed negligent for leaving the infant alone and in a perilous position with the exhausted and sedated mother. In fact, the mother’s medications were so strong that she did not even wake up when the nurse came into the room and discovered that her child had stopped breathing.
The $5.9 million awarded will be used to compensate for the plaintiff’s future loss of earnings and to cover the costs of her expansive medical needs.