$12 Million Medical Malpractice Settlement for 7-Year-Old Boy With Cerebral Palsy Who Suffered a Severe Brain Injury Because His Physicians Failed to Diagnose His Seizures
Meyers & Flowers trial attorneys Craig D. Brown and Peter J. Flowers recently finalized a $12 million medical malpractice settlement for a 7-year-old boy after his physicians negligently failed to diagnose and stop his seizures while he was a patient at a northern Illinois hospital for 36 hours.
Adam was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was 2 years old. His cerebral palsy caused many significant physical and cognitive disabilities. In the spring of 2016, Adam was a second grader who had worked very hard to learn how to walk with a walker, read some picture books, and feed himself with his fingers. Although Adam could not speak very well, he loved going to school with his friends. He enjoyed an extremely close relationship with his parents and siblings and absolutely loved singing songs with his older sister when he got home from school. Although his disabilities required him to be dependent on adult supervision, Adam worked hard in physical therapy to develop physical and cognitive skills that maximized his level of independence and thus his ability to enjoy his life as much as possible.
On May 2, 2016 at approximately 3am, Adam’s family awoke to him having a tonic-clonic (grand mal) seizure. They administered his rescue medications, but his body did not stop violently shaking so they rushed him to the Defendant’s hospital which was only 2 minutes away. Immediately upon arrival, Adam was given an IV administration of medications that stopped his convulsive seizure right away. The seizure and the medications caused Adam to stay asleep for 3 hours while he was in the emergency room. This initial period of unresponsiveness is not unusual because his body needed time to recover from such a significant seizure. However, when Adam failed to wake up by 7am, he was admitted to the hospital for observation.
Over the next 24 hours, Adam remained unresponsive and made no progress toward returning to his baseline level of alertness. He also showed obvious signs that his brain was still seizing even though his body was not shaking, including having a high fever, muscle tightening, and an elevated heart rate. Adam’s mother, a registered nurse, repeatedly asked the doctors and nurses to order an EEG throughout the day which could determine if his brain was still seizing, but his physicians did not order the EEG until 7pm.
Although no abnormalities were noted in the initial EEG, Adam was still unresponsive so a pediatric neurologist practicing telemedicine from Florida agreed to monitor the continuous EEG that ran overnight and into the next morning. The next day, almost 36 hours after Adam arrived at the hospital, his doctors reviewed the entire EEG strip for the first time and determined that Adam’s brain had been seizing on and off the entire time he was in the hospital.
After being transferred to a Wisconsin pediatric hospital via helicopter, Adam was diagnosed with a catastrophic global brain injury due to more than 36 hours of intermittent seizing. The tragic experience cost him every ounce of the autonomy he worked so hard to gain since the day he was born. Now almost six years later, Adam is confined to a wheelchair and he takes all his food through a G-tube.
Meyers & Flowers trial attorney Craig Brown filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against several of Adam’s doctors and the hospital that employed them because they failed to diagnose his continued seizures in a timely manner. Over the last 4 years, the Meyers & Flowers team, led by Craig Brown and Peter Flowers, devoted their full resources to aggressively litigating Adam’s case as efficiently as possible despite potential delays that could have been caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The hospital staff’s failure to use reasonable care caused our client to suffer a massive brain injury that could have been prevented had they simply ordered an EEG by 9am when it was obvious something was wrong,” said Craig Brown. “The EEG would have shown Adam was still seizing, and his doctors would have administered standard anti-seizure medication that would have effectively and permanently stopped his seizures before any brain damage occurred.”
Conversely, the doctors and the hospital aggressively defended the case for 3 years and denied they deviated from the standard of care. Their team alleged it was reasonable for the physicians to expect Adam’s “sleepy” period to last for 12-24 hours because his severe seizure at home had lasted many hours. Records taken by the nursing staff indicating Adam was “sleepy but arousable” and a lack of recommendations for an EEG from a consulting pediatric neurologist from Wisconsin strengthened the Defendants' arguments.
“The Defendants’ main strategy was to convince our jury that Adam’s seizure at home led to his devastating brain injury and the continued seizures he had for 36 hours at their hospital miraculously did not cause any harm because these seizures were not the type of seizures that can cause the brain injury Adam suffered,” said Mr. Brown.
In order to meet their burden of proof, the Meyers & Flowers team hired twenty different expert witnesses from the best medical institutions in the United States to evaluate the complex medical issues regarding what Adam’s doctors did wrong and why Adam’s brain injury was caused by the undiagnosed seizures at the hospital, not by his seizure at home. Furthermore, Mr. Brown and Mr. Flowers had the added challenge of explaining to the jury how Adam’s life was severely and permanently impacted by this new brain injury even though his cerebral palsy caused profound physical and cognitive disabilities before his seizure events.
“This is one of the most complex medical cases any trial lawyer could handle,” said Mr. Flowers. “Thus, we presented the case to several different focus groups and we conducted a mock trial so we had a very good idea how our jury was going to react to the evidence we would have presented at trial. The information we learned from our focus groups and our mock trial helped us evaluate our case and counteract all the Defendants’ arguments.”
After a full day mediation, the parties agreed to a settlement of $12 million to be paid partially by the hospital and one of the Defendant’s liability carriers. “It was an honor and privilege to represent Adam and his family in this case,” said Mr. Brown. “I am so thankful we were able to obtain justice and fair compensation for Adam. We are now working with Adam’s parents to create an Irrevocable Trust that will protect and grow Adam’s settlement funds. We are so pleased to be able to help them retrofit their home with hoyer lifts, a therapy pool, and other amenities that will help Adam make the best recovery possible. Adam will now be able to receive the best medical care and rehabilitation services for the rest of his life.”
“Craig did a great job of representing Adam – representing him before and after. For me it was so important for everyone who was involved in this case to get to know Adam. You could see his injuries listed on paper, but everyone needed to grasp the part of our son that was there before which we lost. And Craig really did that. Craig took the time to understand all of our hopes, dreams, and aspirations for our son’s quality of life going forward, so that he could be a good advocate for all that Adam truly lost. Craig really cared about Adam and was working for him in hopes of giving him a better life through the outcome. Now we have the ability to help make his quality of life all that we had wished for because of the fantastic work of the team,” said Adam’s mother.
If you or a loved one were injured due to the negligence of a doctor or hospital, contact us today to explore your legal options. Contact our office at 877-221-2511 or request a free case evaluation online.