A jury in Baltimore awarded the family of Jaylan Norfleet $21 million after a trial alleging that the child’s severe cerebral palsy resulted from the failure of doctors at Harbor Hospital to perform an emergency Caesarean section in 2002. The award included $18 million in compensation for medical expenses, with the rest allotted to lost potential wages and pain and suffering. The $1 million award for pain and suffering will be reduced because of Maryland’s cap on noneconomic damages, resulting in a final award of approximately $20.62 million.
Cerebral palsy is most often caused by brain injuries that occur before or during birth when the brain is deprived of sufficient levels of oxygen. In their suit, the Norfleets alleged that the umbilical cord was wrapped around Jaylan’s neck during his prolonged vaginal birth, causing periods of oxygen deprivation, and that the doctors were aware of the situation but did not discuss the issue with the parents or offer the option of a Caesarean birth.
Cerebral palsy and medical negligence
While cerebral palsy is not necessarily caused by medical negligence, failure to follow the accepted standards of medical care during a birth can result in oxygen deprivation to the child, which is the basis for most lawsuits related to the disabling condition.
Jaylan, now 9 years old, is severely disabled and will most likely be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life, according to the family. Harbor Hospital officials have said they plan to appeal the verdict.
The Norfleet award follows another recent large award in a Maryland cerebral palsy case. In June, a jury awarded the family of Enzo Martinez $55 million in a suit against Johns Hopkins Hospital. That award is also being appealed; if upheld, it will also be subject to reduction by the Maryland noneconomic damages cap.
Dr. Michael M. Wilson is an attorney and a physician who earned his undergraduate degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his legal and medical degrees from Georgetown University. He has focused in the area of medical malpractice for more than three decades and secured more than $100 million in settlements and verdicts on behalf of clients throughout the country. He is admitted to practice in the District of Columbia and New York as well as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and the U.S. Supreme Court. He is listed in America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators.