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Pennsylvania Jury Finds Doctor and Hospital Liable for Medical Malpractice; Awards Family $40.3 Million

Kira Charlton went into labor on March 2, 2011 and was rushed to the Delaware County Memorial Hospital, located in Drexel Hill, PA. Charlton’s twins were deemed healthy throughout her pregnancy, but her doctors advised a cesarean section. According to a 2013 medical malpractice lawsuit, filed on behalf of the Charlton family, when she arrived at the hospital the attending physician, Dr. Steven Troy, opted for a vaginal birth. The Charlton’s lawyers argued that the alleged negligence of Troy and the hospital led to an irreversible spinal injury to Grayson Charlton, leaving her paralyzed from the chest down.

Grayson, now 6-years-old, was in a footling breech position after her sister was successfully delivered. Several experts testified at the trial that because of this position, a cesarean section should have been performed. But according to medical records, Dr. Troy went ahead with the vaginal delivery, and allegedly used unnecessary force that caused spinal trauma to the newborn. Troy was accused by the plaintiffs of not having “sufficient training, experience, or qualification to undertake such a complicated delivery.” A few days after the delivery Grayson was transferred to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where they found that her injuries were induced by a “significant birth trauma.”

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“That child is going to have a lifetime of need, and that becomes very expensive when you project it out over the child’s lifetime,” said a Pennsylvania lawyer familiar with the case. “I bet that there’s going to be a lot of learning going on at Delaware County Memorial Hospital.”

After nearly five years of litigation, the two sides could not come to a settlement and the lawsuit was brought to trial. The Delaware County jury heard testimony from both sides over the course of the two-week trial and came back with a verdict in favor of the Charlton family. The jury awarded $40,258,000 to the plaintiffs, which includes around $30 million for future medical expenses and $10 million for pain and suffering. According to the law firm that represented the Charltons, the verdict was the largest personal injury award in the county’s history.

It is not yet clear whether Dr. Troy or the Delaware County Memorial Hospital will appeal the ruling.

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