Family Awarded $41.6 Million over Infant Brain Injury

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Donnett Hickson,
Legal Staff Writer

On Thursday April 20, 2017, a family was awarded $41.6 million in federal court for the tragic brain injuries their baby suffered at the hands of a doctor in a federally-funded clinic. The judge presiding over the case, in agreement with the parents’ claims, ruled that Dr. Thomas Orndorf negligently used forceps during the birth of their son consequently breaching the standard of care.

Christina Late and Nathan Armolt’s baby, who will be referred to as D.A., sustained injuries at birth that will “cause him to suffer for the entirety of his life” and prevent him from “performing basic life functions and caring for himself,” Judge Sylvia Rambo wrote in her 19-page ruling. The forceps that the doctor used on D.A. caused skull fractures and brain bleeding, which ultimately resulted in intellectual and physical disabilities and an inability for D.A. to express himself, read and write.

Orndorf admitted at trial that medical guidelines call for the use of forceps if the mother is in the second stage of labor, if she has pushed for 2 or more hours or if there is an overwhelming suspicion of danger to the fetus. Dr. Orndorf blatantly breached this policy when he negligently used forceps on D.A.’s skull after only a single push by his mother. Medical experts called upon by the family’s attorneys testified that not only was the use of forceps at this time a breach of the standard of care, his application of them caused skull fractures, which was sufficient to prove his negligence to Judge Rambo.

Orndorf’s “premature and multiple use of forceps” resulted in the largest award in a medical malpractice case in the Middle District of Pennsylvania. The federal government will be paying the family approximately $32.9 million for their baby’s future medical expenses, $5 million to D.A. for the pain and suffering he has and will have to endure over the course of his life and $2.7 million in future lost wages, all amounting to about $41.6 million in total.

The case is Christina Late et al. v. U.S., case number 1:13-cv-00756, in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

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