$74.5 million med-mal verdict to child born with cerebral palsy. San Luis Obispo.
In-utero heart rate fluctuates dramatically but medical team fails to hasten birth. Child born with cerebral palsy.
- Case Name: Blunt v. Haupt
- Court and Case Number: San Luis Obispo Superior/CV 10-0071
- Date of Verdict or Judgment: Thursday, April 19, 2012
- Date Action was Filed: Monday, February 08, 2010
- Type of Action: Medical Malpractice
- Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Charles S. Crandall
- Plaintiffs: Andrew and Jennifer Blunt, on behalf of their daughter, Sofia Blunt.
- Defendants: Kurt Haupt, M.D., Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center
- Type of Result: Jury Verdict
- Gross Verdict or Award: $74,525,000
- Economic Damages:
- Non-Economic Damages:
- Trial or Arbitration Time: 7 weeks
- Jury Deliberation Time: 2 days (Less than 10 hours total per defense)
- Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Reductions for MICRA. Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center - Confidential settlement, 3 weeks into trial.
- Attorney for the Plaintiff: Carpenter, Zuckerman & Rowley, LLP by Nicholas C. Rowley, Robert J. Ounjian, and Rodney G. Ritner, Beverly Hills (at trial)Michels & Watkins by Philip Michels, Shirley K. Watkins and Jinheung N. Lew, Los Angeles (pre-trial workup)
- Attorney for the Defendant: Bertling & Clausen by Peter G. Bertling, Santa Barbara (for Dr. Haupt)Hall, Hieatt & Connely by Jay A. Hieatt, San Luis Obispo (for Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center)
- Plaintiff’s Medical Experts: Barry Schifrin, M.D., perinatologistMaureen Sims, M.D., neonatologistCarter Sneed, M.D., pediatric neurologistSharon Kawai, M.D., physiatrist
- Defendant's Medical Experts: Maurice Druzin, M.D., perinatologistWilliam Rhine, M.D., non-retained treating neonatologistMary Kay Dyes, M.D., pediatric neurologistKimberly BeDell, M.D., physiatristLinda Olzack, R.N., life care planner
- Plaintiff's Technical Experts: Peter Formuzis, economist
- Defendant's Technical Experts: Jenny McNulty, economist
Facts and Background
- Facts and Background:
Date and place of incident: April 19, 2009, Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center in San Luis Obispo.
Facts: During birth of the Blunt's baby, there was an irregularity that caused cerebral palsy. The birth factors that played into this result were in dispute between plaintiffs and defendants.
- Plaintiff's Contentions:
That the in utero heart rate of the Blunt's baby fluctuated dramatically before birth and the defendant doctor did not hasten the birth of the baby or perform a proper examination of the blood cord, resulting in cerebral palsy in the newborn.
- Defendant's Contentions:
That the baby was diagnosed with an airway obstruction following birth and multiple resuscitation attempts were unsuccessful. Her heart rate was greater than 100 beats per minute during the first 5 minutes of her life, but dropped to 0 because of the NICU team's inability to establish an airway. The baby had a heart rate of 0 for a minimum of 18 minutes. Once an airway was established, the baby's heart rate returned to normal and she was subsequently transferred to Lucille Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford Medical Center where neuroprotective treatment was initiated in a timely fashion.
The fetus did not have any evidence of "fetal distress" on the fetal monitor tracing as testified by the charge nurse, attending labor and delivery nurse and Dr. Druzin. This was a Class 2 tracing according to ACOG Guidelines and did not warrant an expedited delivery via an episiotomy, forceps, vacuum or cesarean section. The defendant did not testify during trial. The cerebral palsy was caused by an airway obstruction which prevented enough oxygen from getting to the brain for more than 18 minutes.
Injuries and Other Damages
- Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:
Daughter born with cerebral palsy.
Future medical costs and future loss of earnings.
- Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: $51,000,000
- Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: $10,000,000
Demands and Offers
- Plaintiff §998 Demand: $1,000,000
- Plaintiff Final Demand before Trial: $1,000,000
- Plaintiff Demand during Trial: $3,000,000
- Defendant §998 Offer: $0
- Defendant Final Offer before Trial: $0
- Defendant Offer during Trial: $2,000,000