California Jury Clears Hospital in Med Mal Claim Over Child's Brain Injury

Posted by Arlin Crisco on May 10, 2024 12:19:46 PM


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Los Angeles, CA— A California hospital was cleared Monday over claims it was responsible for the severe brain injury that a child who was born at the facility suffered. Bautista-Lopez v. Emanate Health Foothill Presbyterian Hospital, BC693486.

A California state court jury deliberated across two days before finding Emanate Health Foothills Presbyterian Hospital was not responsible for a 2012 blood-oxygen deprivation-related brain injury Matthew Lopez-Bautista suffered. His attorneys claim he suffered the injury, called a hypoxic ischemic injury, because of delays surrounding his Cesarean section delivery.

Prior to the C-section being ordered, Lopez-Bautista’s mother had been admitted through the hospital’s emergency department late in the evening, suffering from labor pain. And the 13-day trial turned in part on when the child suffered the brain injury and the timeline of the hospital’s treatment. 

During closings last week, Haytham Faraj, of the Law Offices of Haytham Faraj, highlighted testimony he said showed that healthcare providers had described “active fetal movement" in earlier exams, a finding that Faraj said indicated the child was healthy prior to the delivery.

Telling jurors that the hospital had lost some key medical records surrounding the child’s birth, including some fetal heart monitoring strips, Faraj walked them through the timeline of the facility's treatment. Faraj said that available records indicated the child was determined to be in “fetal distress,” and a C-section was ultimately ordered. But he added that the hospital failed to comply with its policy of beginning the procedure within 30 minutes of the time it was ordered, at roughly 2:45 a.m. This delay, he said, led to the child’s brain damage. 

“Decision to incision in 30 minutes. This incision should have been made by 3:15 [and then] nobody would be here,” Faraj said, before suggesting a roughly $98 million total damage award. “This boy would be out with his family doing what 12-year olds do.”

But the defense counters that Bautista-Lopez’s brain injury occurred at some point before his mother arrived at the hospital. During his closing last week, West & Rosa’s Stephen Rosa told jurors that available medical records measuring the fetal heart rate, post-birth “Apgar” assessments, and more indicated the child did not suffer from acute blood-oxygen deprivation during his delivery at the hospital. 

And Rosa argued there was no valid evidence showing any improper treatment delays in the hospital’s emergency department or in performing the C-section itself. Rosa told jurors that, although the procedure was ordered, it was not considered an emergency by the treating physician or the healthcare team. 

“They wanted to get it done that night,” Rosa said. “But it was not a ‘crash’ or emergency C-section which this ‘decision to incision within 30 minutes’ [policy] would apply to.”

CVN has reached out to attorneys for both sides and will update this article with their comments.

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