Kentucky Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Verdict Upheld on Appeal
The Kentucky Supreme Court has upheld a medical malpractice judgment in favor of a couple whose child was delivered stillborn. The couple claimed the doctor waited too long to schedule a delivery after discovering the mother had pregnancy-induced hypertension.
The lawsuit, which was filed by Lisa Ann and Aaron Hillman, originally resulted in a $500,600 award from a Bell Circuit Court jury, but that decision was appealed by the defendant, Dr. Jerry Woolum, on a number of grounds; including jury misconduct, evidentiary admissions and denial of a directed verdict. However, on October 21, the state’s high court upheld the jury’s decision in the Kentucky medical malpractice lawsuit.
The Hillmans sued Woolum after their child was delivered stillborn in September 2002. A month before, Lisa Ann Hillman had been diagnosed by Woolum as having pregnancy-induced hypertension, or preeclampsia. At the time, Hillman’s blood pressure was 140/100.
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According to the complaint, Woolum told Hillman that the condition was dangerous and could cause seizures and toxemia, but he decided against advancing her pregnancy date. Instead, Woolum put Hillman on bedrest and ordered her to visit him biweekly or if there was a problem.
Hillman’s condition worsened and Woolum eventually relented and scheduled the birth for September 3, two weeks before the child was due. But on September 2, Hillman went into labor and delivered the child, which had already died.
Woolum told Hillman that the baby had likely been dead for at least 24 hours and blamed the death on her preeclampsia. But in court, Woolum said it was possible that an untreatable genetic problem, trophoblasts, caused the child’s death. The jury sided with the family in a 9-3 verdict.
Woolum then appealed, saying that a mistrial should have been declared because two of the jurors fell ill and deliberations were postponed. According to a report by LegalNewsline.com, Wollum’s attorneys argued that the jury was at least partially biased because both of the illnesses were due to high blood pressure. His attorneys also argued that the evidence the Hillman’s presented at trial alleging that the infant could have been delivered earlier and survived, was insufficient.
The Kentucky Supreme Court noted that the two jurors actually disagreed on the verdict, with one of them voting in Woolum’s favor, and said there were no signs their decisions were affected by their illnesses.
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