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Jury Awards $30.5 Million to Brain-Damaged Infant

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Jed D. Manton, partner in Harris Lowry Manton LLP in Atlanta, Georgia

A Gwinnett County, Georgia, jury returned a $30.5 million verdict to a mother and her child who was left severely brain-damaged by a failure to address a problem with the blood flow through the unborn baby’s umbilical cord.

The plaintiffs' lawyer are  Daniel Weinstock and G. Scott Vezina of Philadelphia’s Feldman Shepherd Wohlgelernter Tanner Weinstock & Dodig, along with Jed Manton of Harris Lowry Manton LLP, assisted by Darren Summerville and Angela Fox of Atlanta’s Summerville Firm.

Manton said that Re’Ayah Louis, now age 4, will need 24-hour care for the rest of her life. “With this recovery, however, there is a substantial likelihood that her quality of life will improve in years to come, as she will now have access to the medical care she deserves,” he told the Daily Report.

The jury allocated 75 percent of the liability to co-defendant Gwinnett Medical Center, and 25 percent to Dr. Williard Hearin and his practice.

The defense argued that the mother had ignored the welfare of her baby during her pregnancy by failing to keep her gestational diabetes under control.

The allegations centered on claims that an ultrasound performed on mother Zetah Louis in her 35th week of pregnancy indicated that Re’Ayah might be suffering from reversal end diastolic blood flow. Instead of immediately planning a delivery, Hearin sent Louis to the hospital for further monitoring and a “maternal fetal consult.”

Manton said there was a delay in admitting Louis to the hospital and in triaging her, and it was several hours before Re’Ayah was delivered by C-section. By then, the child had suffered hypoxic brain injury leading to spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, developmental delay and a seizure disorder.

Manton said that the only offer of settlement was one for $2.75 million from the hospital several months before trial, which was declined.

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