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$10 Million Settlement of California Kernicterus/Cerebral Palsy Case

In June 2011, Feldman Shepherd attorneys Daniel S. Weinstock and Carolyn M. Chopko secured a $10 million settlement* on behalf of a child with kernicterus and cerebral palsy. The recovery may be the largest in any such case in the history of the State of California, which pioneered tort reform in the 1970s. California law imposes a general damages cap of $250,000 in medical negligence cases and applies numerous hurdles and barriers designed to prevent a medical malpractice victim from obtaining fair compensation for their injuries.

Under the unique circumstances of this case, attorneys Weinstock and Chopko were able to develop a very strong racial discrimination case as an adjunct to the medical negligence claim, thus rendering the tort reform laws inapplicable. During depositions they discovered and ultimately were able to prove that the California hospital in which their client had been born was providing substandard treatment and care to newborn babies if their family members spoke Spanish but not English. In such instances, the discharge planning and teaching would be performed by a nursing assistant rather than a registered nurse, which is both dangerous and unlawful.

As a result of the negligent care this Spanish-speaking family received, the child was given incorrect discharge instructions, which caused his developing jaundice and hyperbilirubinemia to go unrecognized and untreated. The delay in treatment resulted in the child developing kernicterus and cerebral palsy.

This remarkable recovery will provide for the lifelong safety and well being of the child. At the insistence of the defendants, the names of the parties are being held confidential.

*Attorneys Weinstock and Chopko handled this case on a pro hac vice basis, which is when lawyers not licensed in a particular state associate with a lawyer who is licensed in that state and obtain the court’s permission to jointly represent a client in a specific matter.