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Jurors awarded $9.6 million to the estate of a newborn who lawyers contend died of respiratory complications after being delivered in a Cook County, Ill., jail cell without proper medical help. The jury made an “extraordinarily strong” statement in its verdict, said winning Chicago attorney Jay Paul Deratany. According to Deratany, the jury awarded $7.2 million for the wrongful death of the child and $2.4 in punitive damages. Deratany’s initial demand was $7 million. But, he said, the defense countered with $150,000. In this case, Deratany said he offered a high-low agreement after jury selection — $1.2 million for a plaintiff verdict, $400,000 for a defense verdict — but it was rejected. According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff, Katrina Taylor, was in her third trimester when she was arrested in late October for heroin possession, a charge subsequently dropped. After complaining of labor pains, Taylor was taken from the jail to Cermak Health Services, which serves as the hospital for Cook County inmates. According to Deratany, “No vaginal exam was preformed after 1:15 p.m.,” and his client was returned on foot and in the rain to her cell, despite her continued pleas for medical help and a doctor’s admission that she was in labor. After being returned to her cell, Taylor delivered her baby without medical attention, which the complaint alleges caused the child to develop meconium (intra-uterine fetal waste) aspiration. The baby was taken to Cook County hospital where she died three days later. LaSalle Bank as Administrator of the Estate of Joyce Hughes, deceased v. County of Cook, et al., No. 97 L 12473. Cook County assistant state’s attorneys Judith Modello Wick and Virginia Cooper defended the case, but were not available for comment. Deratany said he anticipated an appeal.

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