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Feldman Shepherd Wins $30.5M in Ga. Brain-Damaged Baby Case

November 14, 2016

A $30.5 million verdict awarded by a Gwinnett County, Georgia, jury to a mother and her brain-damaged child came as a shock to one defense attorney, who said it was likely one of the highest awards Gwinnett has seen. Re’Ayah Louis, now age 4, was left severely brain-damaged by what the plaintiffs said was a failure to promptly address a problem with the blood flow through the unborn baby’s umbilical cord. Louis and her mother,

Re’Ayah Louis, now age 4, was left severely brain-damaged by what the plaintiffs said was a failure to promptly address a problem with the blood flow through the unborn baby’s umbilical cord. Louis and her mother, Zetah Louis, were represented by Daniel Weinstock and G. Scott Vezina of Philadelphia’s Feldman Shepherd Wohlgelernter Tanner Weinstock & Dodig, along with Jed Manton of Harris Penn Lowry, assisted by Darren Summerville and Angela Fox of Atlanta’s Summerville Firm. Manton said that Re’Ayah Louis will require 24-hour care for the rest of her life. The jury allocated 75 percent of the liability to co-defendant Gwinnett Medical Center, and 25 percent to Dr. Williard Hearin and his practice. According to Manton, a condential agreement with

The jury allocated 75 percent of the liability to co-defendant Gwinnett Medical Center, and 25 percent to Dr. Williard Hearin and his practice. According to Manton, a condential agreement with hospital was reached shortly before the verdict; there was no such arrangement for Hearin, he said. Defense attorneys M. Scott Bailey and Taylor Tribble of Huff Powell & Bailey represented Hearin and a colleague, Dr. Rebecca Williams, who was cleared of liability. “We were absolutely oored by the amount of the verdict,” said Bailey, which he said was likely among the highest ever awarded in Gwinnett, traditionally a more conservative trial venue. Bailey also said he was surprised that the jury found no liability on the part of the mother, who had “repeatedly ignored the welfare of her baby” during her pregnancy by failing to keep her gestational diabetes under control. Bailey said he and his client are weighing their options regarding an appeal. “When we rst looked at this case it was immediately clear to us that Gwinnett, and the doctors involved in managing

Defense attorneys M. Scott Bailey and Taylor Tribble of Huff Powell & Bailey represented Hearin and a colleague, Dr. Rebecca Williams, who was cleared of liability. “We were absolutely oored by the amount of the verdict,” said Bailey, which he said was likely among the highest ever awarded in Gwinnett, traditionally a more conservative trial venue. Bailey also said he was surprised that the jury found no liability on the part of the mother, who had “repeatedly ignored the welfare of her baby” during her pregnancy by failing to keep her gestational diabetes under control. Bailey said he and his client are weighing their options regarding an appeal. “When we rst looked at this case it was immediately clear to us that Gwinnett, and the doctors involved in managing

“We were absolutely oored by the amount of the verdict,” said Bailey, which he said was likely among the highest ever awarded in Gwinnett, traditionally a more conservative trial venue. Bailey also said he was surprised that the jury found no liability on the part of the mother, who had “repeatedly ignored the welfare of her baby” during her pregnancy by failing to keep her gestational diabetes under control. Bailey said he and his client are weighing their options regarding an appeal. “When we rst looked at this case it was immediately clear to us that Gwinnett, and the doctors involved in managing

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Bailey also said he was surprised that the jury found no liability on the part of the mother, who had “repeatedly ignored the welfare of her baby” during her pregnancy by failing to keep her gestational diabetes under control. Bailey said he and his client are weighing their options regarding an appeal. “When we rst looked at this case it was immediately clear to us that Gwinnett, and the doctors involved in managing

“When we first looked at this case it was immediately clear to us that Gwinnett, and the doctors involved in managing Zetah’s case, continuously dropped the ball in terms of making sure a healthy baby was delivered properly,” Weinstock said in a press release. “Thankfully, the jury saw the same egregious errors we did and their verdict will help ensure Zetah and Re’Ayah receive the continued care and assistance they need.” Hall Booth Smith partner John Hall, who represented the hospital with colleague Ryan

Hall Booth Smith partner John Hall, who represented the hospital with colleague Ryan Donihue, conrmed that there would be no appeal for his client.“We are very disappointed with the verdict,” Hall said via email.

A fourth doctor, Kim Lipscomb, was also cleared of liability. Her attorney, Matthew Coles of Lawrenceville, Georgia’s Coles Barton, said in an email that a high-low agreement between his client and the plaintiffs had been reached before trial. The allegations centered on claims that an ultrasound performed on mother Zetah

The allegations centered on claims that an ultrasound performed on mother Zetah Louis in her 35th week of pregnancy indicated that Re’Ayah Louis might be suffering from reversal end diastolic blood flow. Instead of immediately planning a delivery, according to filings, Hearin sent Zetah Louis to the hospital for further monitoring and a “maternal fetal consult.” Manton said there was a delay in admitting Louis to the hospital and in triaging her, and it was several hours before Re’Ayah Louis was delivered by C-section. By then, the child had suffered hypoxic brain injury leading to spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, developmental delay and a seizure disorder.

Manton said that a mediation before Thomas Tobin at Henning Mediation & Arbitration Services was unsuccessful and that the only offer of settlement was one for $2.75 million from the hospital several months before trial, which was declined.

During a two-and-a-half-week trial before Gwinnett County State Court Judge Shawn Bratton, Bailey said his clients and the hospital presented a united front but that Lipscomb’s lawyer, Coles, was “openly critical” of Hearin during closing arguments. On Nov. 9, after what Manton said was about a day-and-a-half of deliberations, the jury awarded $30,545,655 in damages. In conversation afterward, Manton said the jurors said they felt the child’s injuries could have been prevented.

“This was one of the best plaintiffs’ jury panels I’ve seen in any venue, and it was certainly not what we consider to be a typical Gwinnett County jury,” said Bailey. “That’s not sour grapes; [the plaintiffs team] tried a great case. I just thought we tried a great case, too.”
Greg Land can be contacted at gland@alm.com.