Trials & Litigation

Girl gets $32M settlement in med-mal case over quadruple limb amputations

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A $32 million settlement in a malpractice case against the University of Chicago Medical Center last year will allow an 11-year-old who had both arms and both legs amputated to live for the first time in a fully handicapped-accessible home; pay a personal assistant for the rest of her life; and get the benefit of special wheelchairs and prosthetics.

But Ashanti Norals already has responded with remarkable spirit to the loss of all of her limbs, which were amputated just below the elbows and knees, reports the Chicago Tribune (sub. req.) in a lengthy front-page article on Thursday.

Active and outgoing before a seemingly minor knee injury at school apparently led to sepsis, gangrene and the amputations, the girl became confident and agile after she began taking special gym classes and swimming lessons for amputees two years ago, says her mother, Erica Norals. An assistant manager at a pharmacy until she quit her job to help her daughter recover, the mother is credited by the newspaper for taking a positive attitude toward the situation that helped her daughter maintain a similar view.

“When this first happened, I made a choice to count our blessings,” said Erica Norals. “And, it turns out, we have a lot of those.”

Attorney Kevin G. Burke, who represents the family, said a delay of over 24 hours in treating Ashanti Norals with antibiotics after she was admitted on May 23, 2011 led to septic shock, cardiac arrest and organ failure.

The hospital declined to speak to the newspaper, but said it has “rigorous policies and practices to ensure patient safety” in a written statement provided to the Tribune.

“By settling the case, the medical center is not admitting fault in the case or treatment of this person,” the statement continues. “The medical center worked with the family’s counsel to resolve the case so that the individual can receive the support and medical care needed.”

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