A Douglas County jury has awarded $26.1 million to a family from Sarpy County who sued Children’s Hospital and Medical Center in Omaha after their child was sent home after an accidental fall and then suffered seizures that left her permanently disabled; however, this amount could be drastically reduced due to a state cap on such verdicts.
The judgment is a record for medical malpractice in Nebraska, surpassing the $17 million a federal jury awarded in August 2015 for a baby born at Bellevue Medical Center with brain damage.
Monday, the jury awarded Vivianne Marousek, age 5, $21.5 million for lifetime medical care and damages, and $4.6 million to her parents, according to the Omaha World-Herald. The jury determined that the hospital and one of its physicians improperly discharged Vivianne in 2017 after she sustained a traumatic brain injury in a daycare accident.
She suffered severe seizures and irreparable brain injury within two days of being sent home, leaving her blind, unable to communicate, and confined to a wheelchair.
Joe Cullan, an attorney for the family, stated that Children’s Hospital added insult to injury by insinuating that the parents or a babysitter may have abused the child. Authorities in Sarpy County initially cited the babysitter but subsequently dropped the charges.
Cullan stated that “there was absolutely no evidence” that the child’s injuries were caused by anything other than a fall from an object she was standing on.
Under Nebraska’s $2.25 million limit on medical malpractice verdicts, the jury’s award may be significantly reduced.
A Children’s Hospital attorney is anticipated to ask the judge to apply Nebraska’s $2.25 million cap. This would reduce Vivianne’s award to $2.25 million and her parents’ award to $2.25 million, for a total of $4.5 million.
Cullan stated that he will ask the judge to declare the limit on medical malpractice verdicts unconstitutional, citing the fact that a lifetime of medical expenses will far surpass the cap.
Children’s Hospital stated in a prepared statement that it sympathized with the child but “strongly maintains that the evidence presented clearly showed that our team provided the appropriate standard of care.”