Just as a negligent driver can be held liable in a court of law for damages resulting from the breach of a legal duty while driving a motor vehicle, so can a medical professional be held liable for a failure to uphold the applicable standard of care due a patient during the diagnosis or treatment of an illness, injury, or medical condition, including pregnancy and childbirth.
Unfortunately, such cases can be very difficult and time-consuming, and the plaintiff does not always win, even when a doctor’s actions have allegedly resulted in a very serious injury or even death.
Facts of the Case
In the case of Milambo v. Satlin, the plaintiff was the father of a stillborn child who was delivered in 2007 via Caesarian section (C-section). The father was also the executor of the child’s estate. At the time of the delivery, the child’s mother was 30 weeks and three days pregnant. Approximately 45 minutes passed between the time that the attending physician first told the mother that a C-section was necessary and the time that the mother consented to the procedure. When delivered, the child had no pulse and an Apgar score of zero.
The father filed suit against the defendant doctors, alleging that they had been negligent in delaying the C-section and that this delay caused the child to be stillborn. The defendants answered that the mother had delayed in consenting to the C-section and that the stillbirth was an unforeseen event of undetermined cause.
The case was tried to a jury and resulted in a verdict for the defendants. The plaintiff appealed, disputing certain evidentiary rulings and instructions to the jury.
The Ruling on Appeal
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Appeals Court affirmed the lower court’s ruling. The court found that the plaintiff’s argument that certain documents (including papers from the plaintiff’s divorce from the mother) were inadmissible was misplaced because the materials in question were not introduced as exhibits at trial. As to whether it was appropriate for the defendants’ attorney to refer to the documents during cross-examination, the court found that the trial court had properly found that the plaintiff had opened the door to questions about his divorce when he testified that his son’s death led to his separation from the child’s mother.
The court likewise found no error with regard to the trial court’s handling of testimony and cross-examination regarding certain restraining orders and affidavits about the plaintiff’s alleged domestic abuse against the child’s mother.
To Talk to an Attorney About Your Massachusetts Medical Malpractice Case
If you or a loved one has been hurt by the negligence of a doctor, nurse, or other medical provider, you should talk to an attorney about the possibility of filing suit against the careless individual. Although medical negligence lawsuits can be difficult to prove and expensive to maintain, litigation is often the only way that a family can obtain damages to help with medical expenses, lost wages, and the like. To talk to an experienced Cape Cod medical malpractice lawyer, call the Law Offices of John C. Manoog, III at (888) 262-6664 and schedule an appointment for a free and confidential case evaluation in our Hyannis or Plymouth office.
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