A more than $10 million verdict against Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia over a failure to promptly diagnose an infant’s bacterial meningitis remains in place after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court declined to take up the hospital’s appeal.
The justices denied allocatur Tuesday in Tillery v. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, letting stand a unanimous three-judge Superior Court panel’s ruling to uphold the $10.1 million verdict a Philadelphia jury awarded in 2015. That ruling affirmed a decision from the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, which had declined to overturn the verdict.
According to a news release issued Tuesday by plaintiffs counsel, the award is now worth about $12.4 million after factoring in delay damages and post-judgment interest.
CHOP, which had been found 60 percent liable for Shamir Tillery’s injuries, and Dr. Monika Goyal, who the jury found 40 percent liable, had challenged the lower court’s rulings regarding the qualifications and testimony of the plaintiff’s experts, but Superior Court Senior Judge William H. Platt, writing for the majority, rejected those arguments.
“Based on the foregoing, as well as our thorough review of the entire substance of appellee’s experts’ testimony, appellants’ claim that the opinions were speculative, based entirely on their personal conjecture and expertise, and not on science of empirical evidence, is belied by the record,” Platt said.
In November 2015, a jury found the hospital and Goyal liable for failing to timely diagnose Tillery’s bacterial meningitis despite multiple trips to the hospital. Specifically, they contended that the defendants should have expanded their potential field of diagnoses beyond simply respiratory concerns, and should have ordered blood work and eventually a lumbar puncture after Tillery was brought to the emergency room by ambulance on two consecutive days in 2009.
Kline & Specter attorney Andy Stern, who, along with Elizabeth Crawford, represented the plaintiffs in the case, said in a news release following Tuesday’s allocatur denial, “We are very pleased that the courts of this Commonwealth have confirmed the jury’s verdict that CHOP is responsible for Shamir Tillery’s profound deafness and brain injury, and that efforts to delay payment on this verdict have finally come to an end.
Attorney Maureen McBride of Lamb McErlane, who handled the case for the defendants, could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.
The delayed diagnosis allegedly caused injuries including hearing loss, central language disorder, developmental and learning delays and a loss of balance due to bone growth that affected his vestibular nerve.
The defendants’ post-trial arguments focused mostly on the fairness of the expert testimony during trial, contending, among other things, that the testimony was cumulative, or outside the scope of the experts’ reports.
Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Denis P. Cohen had said that the defendants’ arguments that the jury should have been given a “two schools of thought” instruction was “little more than a red herring,” and Platt said the argument “mischaracterized” the theories in the case. The Superior Court judge determined that the requested instruction would have been inappropriate.
The defendants had also sought to reduce the verdict and medical expenses to present value, but Platt said the award was reasonable, and the request to reduce the future medical expenses went against the way the medical damages are usually calculated.
Zack Needles can be contacted at 215-557-2373 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @ZackNeedlesTLI.