erie county jurors return 2 large medical malpractice verdicts

In the past couple days in Erie County, juries for two separate medical negligence cases returned substantial verdicts. The first verdict on Wednesday awarded $21.6 million dollars to the mother of a 4 ½ year boy with cerebral palsy. This was the largest verdict in Erie County’s history, almost 5 times as high as the previous highest verdict.

According to court testimony the boy suffered a lack of oxygen during birth leaving the boy with profound disabilities. Hamot Medical Center, now known as UPMC Hamot, was found 100 percent negligent. The jury found that the nursing staff was completely at fault for not monitoring the fetal heart rates and other vital signs of the baby that showed distress. As a result, the boy was not delivered soon enough and did not get enough oxygen through his umbilical cord. The lack of oxygen left the boy with cerebral palsy, unable to speak and being fed through a tube.

The verdict included $19.6 Million for future medical expenses, past medical expenses and loss of earning capacity.

The second verdict reached on Thursday in Erie County was in favor of the estate of a Sheffield woman who died of lung cancer at age 66. The jury awarded the estate $1.8 Million and found two physicians negligent, Renato Ocampo, M.D. and Wilfredo Tan, M.D. for the three year delay in diagnosis of lung cancer.

The verdict only affects Ocampo because Tan and other defendants, Kane Memorial Hospital, Hamot Medical Center (now known as UPMC Hamot), and Warren General Hospital all settled before or during trial for undisclosed amounts. The verdict will be reduced to $1,092,917.40 to reflect the settlement with Tan.

According to court records, the deceased woman had chest x-rays at Hamot, Warren and Kane Hospitals between 1998 and 2003. Films showed that she had cancer in 2000, but was not diagnosed until 2003. The lung cancer went from operable and curable in 2000 to inoperable and terminal in 2003.

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