Ohio Birth Injury Case and the Ohio Medical Malpractice Cap

After three-and-a-half days of deliberation, a Hamilton County, Ohio, jury awarded $22.6 million to a Blue Ash woman and her child. The suit had been brought because of the child’s permanent brain injuries resulting from having been stuck for over 13 hours in the mother’s birth canal during delivery in 1997. Tragically, the child, now eleven years old, has spastic quadriplegia. Almost $16 million of the award was for future medical expenses.

There is a cap on medical malpractice cases in Ohio. The cap is the greater of either $250,000 or three times economic damages, subject to a maximum of $350,000 per plaintiff and a maximum of $500,000 per malpractice occurrence. If the Ohio malpractice cap applied to this case, the cap would increase to $500,000 per plaintiff and $1 million per occurrence when the plaintiff suffers permanent and substantial physical deformity, loss of use of a limb, loss of a bodily organ system, or permanent physical injury that prevents self-care.

How unjust would it be to limit this mother and child’s recovery in this case? Fortunately, the Ohio malpractice cap does not apply in this case because the cap applies only to negligence that occurred after April 2003. But surely another child is coming down the pike with similar injuries, and that child will never receive the compensation that a jury deems appropriate.

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