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Oregon Supreme Court upholds $1.375M medical malpractice award


In a major victory for victims of medical malpractice, the Oregon Supreme Court recently upheld the entire damage award in a delivery malpractice case. The case involved a baby who suffered serious nerve injuries during the delivery process due to the malpractice of a Lane County medical group.

Prior to the baby's delivery in 2004, doctors at the Oregon Medical Group did not inform his mother of certain serious risk factors concerning the child's delivery. These risk factors increased the risk the boy would become stuck in the birth canal and suffer from a Birth injury if delivered vaginally. The mother's doctors did not inform her that a cesarean section could avoid these risk factors and the potential injuries to the baby. During the delivery process, his shoulder got stuck and he now suffers from a permanent disability called brachial plexus.

The Oregon Supreme Court upheld a $1.375 million jury award entered in favor of the family in 2008. The court found that a state law capping civil damages should not apply to the case. The 1987 law capped damages at $500,000 for pain and suffering. The jury also awarded the family $557,881 in economic damages.

The state high court has previously found the cap does not apply to malpractice claims. However, an exception exists for prenatal injuries to a fetus. In its ruling, the court determined the case did not involve a prenatal injury. The ruling overturns a 2011 Court of Appeals decision that held the damage award should be capped. The high court's ruling in the birth injury case comes as vindication to victims and their families across the state.

Source: The Oregonian, "Lane County family owed full damages award in delivery malpractice case, state high court rules," Helen Jung, Sept. 26, 2013

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