Family of Woman who Died in Childbirth Awarded $24.5 Million
Birth-related injuries are a major cause of concern in the United States. American hospitals have posted some of the worst statistics of any first-world countries. In most cases, deaths were recorded in low-income areas of the country. Florida ranked somewhere in the middle of all states surveyed in the USA Today article.
In one such case, a Florida jury awarded $24.5 million to the family of a mother who died shortly after giving birth to a baby girl. She was only 34 years old.
The majority of the compensatory awards went to the children of Lilia Torres with the most going to her newborn, Lillian, who will never know her mother.
According to the lawsuit, Lilia Torres bled to death after having a c-section at Broward General Hospital. A team of four doctors participated in the delivery of the baby, and each of them was named in the lawsuit. Also named was Phoenix Obstetrics Gynecology. The complaint alleged that Torres was scheduled for a c-section at 10:00 a.m. on July 21, 2015. The procedure was not performed until midnight of the next day.
The doctors, who conceded negligence during the trial, defended the case on the damages. They suggested a $4 million verdict to the jury to compensate the family for their loss of love and support, but the jury returned a $24 million verdict against the defendants. The plaintiff’s attorney argued that the admission of negligence, in this case, served to reduce the family’s overall reward at trial.
Why This Case is Important
This lawsuit shines a light on many of the problems that the U.S. health care system faces, especially in low-income areas. Cases like the one mentioned above are not uncommon. Those who need immediate medical attention are made to wait for procedures that should have been conducted hours before with devastating and even fatal consequences. While the problem isn’t apparent in every hospital across the U.S., the problem is pronounced in denser and highly populated areas that serve large numbers of patients. These hospitals are routinely understaffed and patient care suffers as a result.
In many of the worst states noted in the USA Today article, the solution for legislators has not been to focus on improving the quality of care, but rather to place damage caps on medical malpractice lawsuits that further arguably disincentivize doctors and hospitals from raising their standard of care. In Louisiana, for example, the cap on medical malpractice related damages is $500,000. This includes punitive damages and compensatory damages that are not related to future medical care. Louisiana was ranked dead last in maternal deaths out of all 50 states.
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