A jury awarded almost $14 million to an Ohio family earlier this year, finding the doctor liable for medical malpractice during the birth of their now 10-year-old daughter Haley.
Debra and Okey Cobb alleged that the doctor’s decision to not perform a cesarean section deprived the fetus of oxygen, causing brain injury which developed into cerebral palsy.
Cerebral palsy is a medical disorder that affects functions of the central nervous system such as movement, learning, hearing, seeing and thinking. It is caused by injury to the brain – often occurring as the fetus grows in the womb or during the first two years of life as the baby’s brain continues to develop.
On January 3, 2000, a pregnant Debra Cobb went in for a regular checkup and was told that the baby had a low heart rate. The doctor suggested inducing labor to increase the baby’s heart rate, and Debra found herself in labor overnight.
At trial, the Cobbs’ attorneys argued that as labor stretched on, the doctor should have been aware of health risks to the baby and had a duty to perform a c-section to ensure that Haley was delivered without injury.
According to an expert witness, brain injuries likely occurred after the medically-induced contractions and the fact that a vacuum was used during delivery.
After deliberating for over a day, the jury returned with a verdict in favor of the Cobbs, awarding them $13.9 million. The award was based on cost estimates for round-the-clock care that Haley would require for the rest of her life.
The Cobbs are relieved with the outcome, as they will now be financially capable of providing their daughter with the care that she needs. “Now we can get some help into the house and now we know we can do it and take care of her the way she deserves,” said Debra Cobb.
Critics may argue that almost $14 million is much too large of an award for a birth injury lawsuit, but the Cobbs’ attorney noted that, “
According to TribToday.com, $13.9 million is the largest medical malpractice award ever obtained in Trumbull County. Previously, $9.5 million was awarded to a couple for the wrongful death of their six-year-old son.