Medical malpractice lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm report of a story of a young man with cerebral palsy who was recently the victim of devastating medical malpractice. A jury awarded the man $3.5 million in compensation for his injuries.
In 2005, Jeremy Freeman suffered a fall at his home and was taken to the emergency room at Walker Baptist Medical Center in Alabama. Doctors conducted a CT scan of his head and he was eventually sent home. Ten days later, Freeman returned to the hospital because of sharp pains in his neck and numbness in both hands, which are known, traditional signs of spinal cord injury. An x-ray of his spine was performed, however, doctors failed to order an MRI or reflex testing, which would have determined if the spinal cord was in any way injured (x-rays show only bone abnormalities).
Again, Freeman was sent home to his apartment where he lived alone. As a youth, Freeman suffered from cerebral palsy, which is a neurological disorder related to abnormal brain development. At the time, Freeman was 27-years-old, and ardently fought to overcome cerebral palsy, successfully getting a diver’s license, an apartment by himself, and a maintenance job.
Two months after his second hospital visit, however, his mother found him almost completely paralyzed in his bedroom, unable to move to get help. He was taken to the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he was found to have massive disc hernias on his spinal cord.
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Doctors immediately performed surgery to relieve the pressure on his spinal cord, although the two months Freeman spent with the undiagnosed hernias left him with permanent spine injury and partial paralysis. He is now wheelchair-bound and wholly dependent on his mother for care. He suffers from spastic quadriparesis, which is one of the most severe forms of cerebral palsy, affecting all four of his limbs. He can no longer work, and is largely unemployable because of his injuries.
The trial lasted nine days, and the $3.5 million verdict is the largest malpractice verdict in Walker County history. This case was particularly devastating because of the great bounds Freeman took throughout his life to overcome his cerebral palsy – efforts that were completely reversed by one doctor’s negligence. A simple MRI would have detected the disc hernias.
Cerebral palsy is one of the most severe birth injuries a child can sustain during labor and delivery. The disorder can be caused by an array of factors, however, the unfortunate reality is that many infants develop cerebral palsy because of negligence by doctors and nurses during the delivery process, when the baby is deprived of oxygen.
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In one such case, a Maryland woman was giving birth at home with the assistance of a midwife when the baby became stuck. The mother and her husband rushed to Johns Hopkins Hospital, where she was forced to wait two hours for a C-section. Nurses claimed they had to wait for blood tests in order to perform the surgery.
Ultimately, the child developed cerebral palsy, which his parents believe was due to the lack of oxygen to his brain during that two hour period. He is unable to speak, walk, or even sit up on his own. They filed a lawsuit against Johns Hopkins, where experts testified that the C-section should have been performed within 30 to 40 minutes. The jury awarded the family $55 million, which they plan to use for medical treatments for their son, hoping one day he can do more than just smile.
Medical malpractice is, unfortunately, a surprisingly common occurrence, from which it is estimated that more than 98,000 Americans die each year. Patients may be eligible for compensation through a malpractice lawsuit if the doctors in any way deviated from the standard of care. This may stem from a delay in or failure to diagnose, failure to warn of known risks, improper treatment, or simple negligence or mistakes.
Cerebral palsy lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm understand that sustaining an injury – particularly a birth injury – from medical negligence can be overwhelming, expensive, and life-changing. We have decades of experience working with victims of malpractice and their families, and have recovered millions of dollars for our clients.