By Jonathan Hillenbrand [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
A Cook County jury has awarded more than $50 million to the family of a boy who has had cerebral palsy, allegedly as a result of injuries he sustained at birth when he was delivered at Evanston NorthShore Hospital nine years ago.
The jury delivered the verdict in favor of the Aimee and David Florez, who sued on behalf of their son, Julien.
Defendants in the action included NorthShore University Health System, which operates Evanston Hospital; physician Armin Drachler, and a nurse, identified as Lisa Wegrzyn. The jury found against all three defendants, ordering a total award of $50.3 million, including $20 million for “future loss of a normal life” and $12 million for “future medical expenses.”
Matthew Williams | Salvi Schostok Pritchard
According to the complaint, initially filed in December 2014, the plaintiffs alleged Julien suffered severe brain injuries at birth, after medical staff at the hospital allegedly failed to properly interpret fetal monitoring strips, and ordered Aimee Florez to receive the drug Pitocin, which speeds delivery by causing stronger contractions.
Those contractions, the complaint said, placed greater stress on Julien, who was already allegedly struggling in the womb.
According to a press release from the Florez’s attorneys, with the firm of Salvi Schostok & Pritchard, of Chicago, Julien was “born blue,” unable to breathe without assistance. While doctors and nurses were able to resuscitate the boy, Julien sufferd a “severe and permanent brain injury known as toxic ischemic encephalopathy due to the lack of oxygen to his vital organs.
The injury led to Julien developing cerebral palsy, which has left him with a severely limited ability to communicate, decreased motor skills, hearing loss and difficulty walking, which means he “struggles to perform basic, everyday tasks,” the release said.
”This injury never should have happened. Julien’s doctor and nurses did not recognize the ominous signs of fetal distress and his brain injury occurred right before their eyes,” said attorney Matthew L. Williams, who was part of the Florez’s legal team.
Attorney Patrick A. Salvi II said he believed the evidence indicated a prompt cesarean section delivery would have allowed Julien to avoid the injury and cerebral palsy altogether.
According to the release, the Florez family was offered a settlement of $10 million, which they rejected.
According to the release, which cited the Jury Verdict Reporter publication, the verdict represents the second highest birth injury verdict in Illinois.
The defendants are represented in the action by attorney David C. Burtker, of Cunningham, Meyer & Vedrin P.C., of Chicago.