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Lawyer Argues $1M Is Standard for Malpractice Causing Stillbirth

Posted Aug 24, 2011 10:27 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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What amount of money compensates a pregnant woman who delivers a stillborn child because of medical malpractice?

In February, A New York appeals court upheld a $1 million award for pain and suffering to Lucia Ferreira, who lost her baby during labor at home. She had previously complained of abdominal pain during three visits to Wyckoff Heights Medical Center, but was sent home with a painkiller, the New York Times reports.

Now a lawyer in a different stillbirth malpractice case, Jeff Korek, is arguing the verdict set a $1 million standard that should be accepted in the Bronx, the story says. Korek represents Vivian Acevedo, who claims in a suit against Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center that a delayed emergency Caesarean caused her child to be stillborn. The hospital offered $500,000, an amount she turned down.

The cases are among the first to move through the legal system after New York’s highest court ruled in 2004 that women can sue for emotional suffering due to malpractice that results in stillbirth.

According to the Times, the cases “shed light on the often macabre computations that lawyers make in trying to fix a dollar figure. As these cases represent uncharted territory in the state, the grim comparisons have gone especially far afield. Lawyers sought, among other analogies, to compare the trauma of a stillbirth to that of being attacked by a dog or to a passenger’s spending nine minutes of anguish knowing a plane is going down.”

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