Illinois Judge Orders University of Chicago Medical Center Pay Family $52,050,000
Lisa Ewing was 40 weeks pregnant in 2004 when she noticed that her baby was not moving nearly as much as he had been. Upon the discovery she immediately went to the University of Chicago Medical Center to be evaluated. But according to a medical malpractice lawsuit filed on behalf of Ewing, she was allegedly left waiting to see a physician for hours. The suit, filed in December 2013, claims that when she was finally seen the staff ignored signs of distress and waited too long to perform a cesarean section delivery, causing potentially avoidable repercussions to her child.
After hearing arguments from both sides, an Illinois jury found the University of Chicago Medical Center negligent and awarded the Ewing family $53 million. The university hospital then petitioned for a new trial, but a judge denied their request. The judge did, however, reduce the verdict by $950,000. According to the suit, Isaiah Ewing, now 13, suffers from cerebral palsy and permanent brain damage, impeding his ability to speak and confining him to a wheelchair for the rest of his life.
“The court ruled that the University of Chicago Medical Center was given a fair trial and that the jury rendered its award based upon the extensive testimony and evidence presented throughout the case,” said one of Ewing’s lawyers.
Attorneys defending the university argued in court that both Lisa and Isaiah arrived at the medical center with an infection, leading to the complications at birth. But the lawyers representing the Ewing family denied those claims, saying that there was never any infection and Isaiah’s birth defects came solely from a lack of oxygen to the brain. In fact, the lawsuit laid out 20 different mistakes committed by the hospital’s staff, including failure to identify the abnormal fetal heart rate and signs of hypoxia, or a lack of oxygen in the body.
“This is a child in need, [with] profound needs, a mother who, as far as I’m concerned, qualifies as a saint,” said an attorney representing the Ewing family. “Sooner or later we’ll get justice for them. They certainly deserve it.”
The University of Chicago will reportedly appeal the ruling and continue their efforts to reduce the monetary award. Meanwhile, Lisa Ewing has become a full time nurse to her son. She must feed Isaiah all of his meals and help him use the bathroom on the second floor of their home, forcing her to carry him up the stairs several times a day.