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After deliberating for about seven hours, a Philadelphia common pleas jury decided that a local hospital was 100 percent negligent in causing a newborn’s cerebral edema and subsequent cerebral palsy. The jury awarded nearly $11 million dollars. But the jury in Cruz v. Northeastern Hospital absolved two doctors, Dr. Myung Hyo Shin and Dr. Robert Cogan, from any liability. The jury said Northeastern Hospital was solely liable for not sufficiently monitoring Jacqueline Cruz when she was in labor, causing her son Adam’s debilitating injuries. Anne E. Pedersen of Sheller Ludwig & Badey represented Cruz. George Badey and Martin Futrell, also of Sheller, were co-counsel in the case. Edward C. Mintzer of Mintzer Zabicki Powell & Mintzer represented Northeastern Hospital and could not be reached for comment yesterday. Mark R. Zolfaghari represented both doctors. Cruz had been leaking fluids for several days before she delivered her child. She had spiked a fever, was given medication and put a fetal heart monitor. Monitoring strips reported the status of the baby during the mother’s contractions. At trial, Pedersen said the nursing staff was negligent in monitoring Cruz. However, the monitoring strip indicated that Cruz had been monitored up until about 13 minutes before she delivered. “The nurse changed the times on the strip,” Pedersen said. “The times on the strip didn’t make sense, and the only times on the strip were handwritten by the nurse.” Pedersen said there was also some question as to whether the doctors were advised of Cruz’s fever and distress. Pedersen said she spoke with some of the jurors after the verdict, and she thought the jury believed, at a minimum, that Cruz was not monitored for the time the monitoring strip indicated. “[The jury] truly believed that the nurses were not on top of the situation,” Pedersen said. “They just weren’t paying enough attention to Mrs. Cruz.” The plaintiff argued that the fever and leaking should have been clear indications that Cruz was suffering from an infection. Pedersen said the strips also indicated asphyxia as well. Adam was born full-term vaginally on Aug. 14, 1992. After delivery, doctors found a brain hemorrhage. He suffered from cerebral edema and hydrocephalus. Pedersen said she presented a witness who testified that the child should have been delivered three hours earlier via Caesarean section. The plaintiff presented an obstetrician and a pediatric neurologist as liability experts and another pediatric neurologist and a neuropsychologist as damages experts. Pedersen said she also presented a life-care planner, a vocational expert, and an economist. Zolfaghari said he presented an obstetrics and gynecology expert to show the doctors were not negligent in Cruz’s treatment. “Our theory was that there was no hypoxic injury to the child,” Zolfaghari said. “The injury resulted from sepsis, and it was an occult infection which offered no signs to alert the doctors of its presence.” He said there was an offer in the form of a global settlement for $600,000 during the trial. That offer was increased to $750,000, which Cruz turned down. The jury’s total verdict was $10,811,431.27. Delay damages will tack on more than $5 million more to the total award. Pedersen said she believed the jury’s verdict was mostly for economic recovery based on the fact that Adam will have to live in an extended-care facility or group home for the rest of his life. “He’s never going to be able to live independently,” Pedersen said. She said after speaking with the jurors after the verdict, she thought the hospital was found fully liable because three jurors did not think the doctors were liable. “[Those three] believed that the nurse was not keeping the doctor necessarily advised,” Pedersen said. Zolfaghari said unless Cruz raises any post-trial issues, he had no intention of filing post-trial motions.

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