October 17, 2003 - Cook County jury awards $ 16 million to brain-damaged girl

A Cook County jury has awarded $ 16 million to a 5-year-old girl whose brain was damaged at birth.

Jurors found for Hannah Foley in her medical malpractice suit against Dr. Peggy Fletcher and Primary Healthcare Associates, but acquitted Ingalls Health Ventures, which was being sued under an apparent agency theory.

The jury also awarded $ 225,000 to Hannah's parents to pay for medical care until the girl is 18.

The case was Foley v. Fletcher, et al., No. 99 L 13945.

Plaintiff's attorneys Nicholas J. Motherway and John M. Saletta alleged that Fletcher allowed Hannah's mother, Kathryn Foley, to go forward with a vaginal birth even though Kathryn Foley's birth canal was too small for her children's heads in two pervious births. Her children had to be delivered via Caesarian section.

Hannah weighed even more than her older siblings and should have been delivered by a Caesarian section, too, Motherway and Saletta alleged.

During labor on March 17, 1998, at Ingalls Memorial Hospital, Kathryn Foley's uterus ruptured, causing Hannah to lose oxygen. Hannah was left with cerebral palsy.

Marilee Clausing and Anne Scrivner Kuban, both partners in Anderson, Bennett & Partners, were defense attorneys. Clausing said her clients "are disappointed" in the jury's verdict and will appeal.

Jurors awarded Hannah $ 2.5 million for disfigurement, $ 5 million for loss of a normal life, $ 2.5 million for pain and suffering, $ 5 million for economic losses and $ 1 million for increased risk of injury. They came back with their verdict Wednesday in Judge Richard J. Elrod's courtroom.

It was Cook County's largest malpractice award for a brain-damaged child since at least 1988, according the Cook County Jury Verdict Reporter. Jury Verdict Reporter's records go back to 1988.

The largest Illinois award for a malpractice case involving a brain-damaged child came in 1991, when a Champaign County jury awarded more than $ 36.4 million to a 5-year-old boy, according to the Jury Verdict Reporter.

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