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Reduced award for medical malpractice recipient

Two weeks ago we wrote a post about a 14-year-old Florida boy and his mother waiting for a bill to pass regarding their $30 million medical malpractice judgment. Late last week, the legislature made a decision and they have passed the bill ordering Lee Memorial Health System to pay $10 million.

The family had originally won a $31 million negligence suit against the health system because of negligence on the part of the hospital staff during the labor and delivery of the boy. Their suit alleged that because of the hospital’s mistakes, the boy now has cerebral palsy and needs 24-7 care.

Because the Lee Memorial Health system is a governmental entity, they are protected by a state law that caps damages against it to $200,000, and any claims above that amount must win legislative approval. The family has been waiting five years for the legislature to review the case and award the judgment money.

Legislators feel that the $10 million is a good compromise. The family will be paid over a 10-year period and attorney fees are capped at $100,000. Also, the legislators felt that a $30 million payout would have resulted in deep cuts into the health system’s budget, compromising its ability to deliver services and care for the needs of the public. Many legislators feel that these types of decisions are a balancing act and always difficult to make both sides happy.

The attorneys for the family are disappointed in the ruling and feel that while the $10 million will go a long way to help care for the child, they worry about what will happen when his mother, the boy’s primary care giver, is no longer around to care for him.

The compensation will be paid into an annuity and the family will receive monthly payments that will meet the child’s health care and other needs.

Source: Newspress.com, “Bill lowers award in Lee Memorial Health System negligence suit,” Frank Gluck, Feb. 24, 2012

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