Federally funded hospital mistake results in $12 million wrongful life lawsuit

A West Virginia federally funded hospital mistake caused irreparable damage to a woman in West Virginia when they failed to tell her about her fetus’s abnormal brain development. The court found $12,116,165 in damages.

Misty Simms went into a federally funded hospital in 2008 for a routine obstetric visit. There, she had a sonogram that revealed a birth defect. From the sonogram, the federally funded clinic providers knew that Mrs. Simms’ baby would never talk, would be severely mentally challenged, and would have a cleft lip.

Because of this federally funded hospital’s mistake, Misty Simms was not able to learn about this information with enough time to make family planning choices, including termination of the pregnancy.

In West Virginia, there is a cause of action called wrongful life that applies in situations like this. Not every state has a cause of action for wrongful life. In West Virginia, the parent of a child who is born with a birth defect can sue for wrongful birth if a federally funded hospital mistake in missing the birth defect and failing to tell the parents so that they can investigate family planning options.

Compensation for Federally funded Hospital Mistakes

When a plaintiff in West Virginia brings a successful claim for medical negligence leading to wrongful life, West Virginia law allows the to recover the extraordinary expenses incurred as a result of the child’s birth defect. This may include attendant care and other hospital or medical costs associated with caring for the child. In many of these cases, children will not be able to live independently of their parents. The parents will need to plan for situations when they are no longer physically capable of caring for their child. Often in these situations, the child is not able to care for themselves.

In this case, the trial court awarded damages for past billed medical expenses totaling $2,615,899. The trial court also took evidence of future medical expenses that the child would have. Those future medical expenses totaled $8,683,196. Because the child suffered severe disabling conditions, including seizures and sleep apnea, the trial court decided that attendant care by a licensed practical nurse (LPN) was necessary for the medical care of the child.

Finally, these cases sometimes involve damages for lost earning capacity and non-economic damages. The trial court found $175,526 in lost income and $641,544 in noneconomic damages.

Can you sue for a federally funded hospital mistake?

A separate issue is whether you can sue the federal government for a federally funded hospital’s mistake. There are over 300 federally funded clinics in Texas alone and perhaps thousands across the country. These clinics may not always advertise their federally funded status. If you bring a lawsuit against one of these clinics without realizing that the facility is under the Federal Tort Claims Act, your entire lawsuit may be thrown out of court.

If you have a case arising out of a community clinic or a federally funded hospital mistake, you may need to investigate whether that clinic receives federal funding and/or the providers responsible are “deemed” federal employees for purposes of the FTCA. Our attorneys have significant experience in determining whether a facility is federally funded.

You must remember that you cannot file a lawsuit against an employee of the federally funded clinic. Instead, you must file suit against the United States of America under the Federal Tort Claims Act. Before you can file suit under the Federal Tort Claims Act, individuals must follow the strict rules of the Federal Tort Claims Act.

There are a lot of pitfalls if you do not know what you are doing. If you cannot successfully resolve the claim administratively, you have the option of filing suit so long as you file within the appropriate limitations period. Our attorneys have decades of trial experience and are able to assist you in this process.

Please contact us if you need a free evaluation of your claim. Once you have filed your form 95, you must wait at least 6 months (maybe more depending on the course of your administrative claim) before you can file a federal lawsuit.

2017-09-20T12:35:35+00:00