Ohio Doctor Found Liable for Medical Malpractice; Family Awarded $11.35 Million

When Lisa Ellis went into labor with her first child on April 26, 2001, Matthew Ellis, her husband, was ready. He quickly packed the car and rushed his wife and unborn son into the Aultman Hospital in Canton, Ohio. Lisa had a difficult delivery. Her son’s head was facing in the wrong direction and her doctor, Laura Fortner, used a vacuum and forceps to extract the infant. According to a medical malpractice lawsuit, filed on behalf of the Ellis family, during the delivery Dr. Fortner allegedly inflicted permanent injuries on the child.

According to the attorneys representing the Ellis family, Fortner should have opted for a Caesarian section, or at least proposed one. And according to the lawsuit, because of the doctor’s alleged negligence, the child will suffer from brain damage for the rest of his life. Immediately after the delivery, the Ellis baby was rushed to the neonatal intensive care unit at Aultman. Bruising and contusions were visible and the doctors at the intensive care warned the family that there might be permanent injuries.

“They were hopeful he would grow out of the problems, but reality set in by the time he was 9 or 10,” said one of the lawyers representing the Ellis family. “That’s when we started the investigation.”

After more than four years of litigation the lawsuit was brought to trial because the two parties could not come to a settlement. The plaintiffs argued that irreversible brain damage was inflicted on the infant during his birth. The two-week trial was held at the Summit County Common Pleas Court last month. After deliberating for one day, the Summit County jury found in favor of the Ellis family. The verdict came with an $11.35 million award for the Ellis family, including $9.5 million for economic losses and $1.85 million for noneconomic.

“This is a wonderful family and a very deserving child for this award by the jury,” said the Ellis attorney after the trial. “It will hopefully provide funds to take care of him in the future.”

Aultman Hospital was also sued, but were dismissed of any charges. It is not yet clear whether Dr. Fortner will appeal the ruling. Fortner contested the charges and her lawyers claimed that the boy was autistic, but an MRI confirmed the brain damage.

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