Family Awarded $5M in Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Involving Baby

One family received the second-largest jury verdict for an infant death in Illinois: $5 million for the death of a seven-week-old baby. The verdict came against a Hinsdale Hospital emergency room physician, under the jurisdiction of the Cook County court. The jury ruled the physician – Dr. David Mayor – and his group, Emergency Health Care Physicians, were negligent in their treatment of the infant, resulting in the baby’s wrongful death.

Details of the $5 Million Lawsuit

Baby Eli G. Haig was born with a rare congenital heart defect: hypoplastic left heart syndrome. This birth defect impacts the way blood flows through the heart. The left side of the baby’s heart fails to form correctly, often either becoming underdeveloped or too small. This results in the left side of the heart being unable to pump blood to the body properly. One day, at seven weeks old, baby Eli had diarrhea and was crying excessively – something that could cause cardiac arrest in babies with hypoplastic left heart syndrome.

Following doctor’s orders, Eli’s parents brought him to the nearest emergency room on May 16th: Hinsdale Hospital in Illinois. They had been in the hospital a couple of weeks prior for excessive crying, on May 5th. On that visit, doctors gave Eli Versed to stop the crying before transferring him to Hope Children’s Hospital. On the May 16th visit, doctors again gave Eli Versed – but this time, they did so when Eli wasn’t crying.

According to the plaintiff’s attorney, the physician also failed to hydrate Eli before administering Versed. This led to Eli’s body being unable to properly absorb the drug. Shortly after receiving Versed on May 16th, Eli’s heart rate slowed. He went into cardiac arrest, which went untreated for around 10 minutes, according to statements given during the trial. Dr. Mayor evidently called Eli’s cardiologist at Hope when he should have been intubating the baby to save his life during this time. Combined with the unnecessary prescription of Versed, waiting 10 minutes to act ultimately caused the baby’s death.

Compensation for Eli’s Family’s Losses

Eli G. Haig was a fraternal twin, and is survived by his twin sister. His sister does not have the congenital heart defect. Back in 2008, when the death occurred, Hinsdale Hospital settled the case for $250,000, while Christ Medical Center settled for $25,000. The parents also filed a claim against Eli’s cardiologist at Hope Children’s Hospital, but the courts dismissed this claim. It wasn’t until 2015 that the family received a $5 million verdict from the Cook County Daley Center.

In October 2015, Eli’s parents, his seven-year-old surviving sister, and a younger brother received $5,072,030 in compensation through a medical malpractice lawsuit against Dr. Mayor, Hinsdale Hospital, and Advocate Christ Medical Center. The jury awarded this amount for the family’s pain and suffering, grief, and reasonable funeral and burial expenses. The final amount came after a jury deliberation of about three hours. Although no amount of money can make up for Eli’s loss of life, the jury verdict can help provide financial stability for Eli’s family for years to come.

Common Birth Injury Lawsuits

When a physician or hospital’s negligence – or malpractice – causes a birth injury or wrongful infant death, civil laws give parents the right to file damage claims against the at-fault party. A parent must prove negligence to qualify for monetary damages. Common birth injuries that may result in malpractice lawsuits include:

  • Brachial plexus injuries
  • Shoulder dystocia
  • Facial paralysis
  • Brain hypoxia (lack of oxygen)
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Bone fractures
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Lacerations
  • Wrongful death

In the case of infant Eli G. Haig, it was negligent patient care that led to a lawsuit. The physician failed to act as a prudent and reasonable doctor would have in the same situation, resulting in the factors that ultimately caused the infant’s death. All types of incidents and tragedies could result in medical malpractice lawsuits if someone else breached a duty, and this breach of duty caused the patient’s injury or death. It is up to the parents, and the parents’ attorney, to prove malpractice in a birth injury lawsuit.

When to Speak to a Lawyer

Physicians behave negligently more often than most patients realize. When it comes to treating infants, the standards of care are higher than other patients. Infants cannot tell a physician what’s wrong. A physician must be especially prudent and diligent when administering infant medical care. Any action or omission that goes against accepted standards of care, resulting in patient injury, could be malpractice.

In Eli’s case, his parents knew right away something was amiss in the way physicians in the emergency room treated the case. From administering Versed when Eli wasn’t crying to talking on the phone for 10 minutes instead of intubating the infant, there were noticeable signs of malpractice. In other cases, however, malpractice may not be as blatant. It is important to take your case to a medical malpractice lawyer for evaluation after any type of birth injury or wrongful death, to find out if your claim has merit.