$29.1 million Federal Tort Claim Verdict Secured for Lake County Family

April 05 2010

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT, NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS – Attorneys David J. Pritchard and Patrick A. Salvi II of Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard secured a $29.1 million verdict on behalf of a Lake County family.  Judge Amy St. Eve of the Northern District of Illinois rendered the verdict for Christian Arroyo and against the United States of America.  The government was represented by Eileen Marutzky and Eric Pruitt of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The case was a medical malpractice lawsuit alleging obstetric and neonatal negligence by federally employed physicians practicing at Northwestern Memorial Hospital at the time of Christian’s birth.  It was brought in federal court under the Federal Tort Claims Act, which is the federal law that allows an individual to bring a lawsuit against the federal government, but which requires the case be tried at a bench trial without a jury.

The verdict comes a little less than three months after the trial and following extensive written submissions by the parties regarding the amount of damages.  The total of $29.1 million will be setoff by a $6.5 million settlement with the hospital in June of 2009.

On May 16, 2003, Maria Arroyo, pregnant with her first child, went to the hospital with labor pains.  Due to Maria’s bag of waters being broken and the baby’s prematurity, Maria needed to receive antibiotics to prevent potential Group Beta Strep infection to her baby.  The obstetrician, a federal employee, did not give the antibiotics to Maria during labor and delivery.  During his first several hours of life, Christian showed multiple signs of having developed an infection.  Despite these red flags, the federal government pediatricians did not intervene and order the necessary antibiotics.  The infection advanced into Christian’s blood stream, traveled to his brain, and caused permanent brain damage.

Today, Christian is a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy. He cannot walk, talk, or eat through his mouth.

“Had the federal government’s doctors followed the standard of care and provided the antibiotics to Maria or Christian at the appropriate times, Christian would have been a normal baby boy,” said David J. Pritchard.

Since birth, Christian has required daily therapy and medication.  He can only eat through a tube, is wheelchair bound and will forever be dependent on someone else to take care of his daily needs.

“This verdict represents the loss suffered by Christian both economically due to his extensive needs during the course of his lifetime, as well as the noneconomic loss including Christian’s loss of a normal life,” said Patrick A. Salvi II. 

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