$9M settlement reached in malpractice suit against Tripler Medical Center

$9M settlement reached in malpractice suit against Tripler Medical Center
Published: Feb. 5, 2016 at 8:38 PM HST|Updated: Feb. 6, 2016 at 4:42 AM HST
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Loretta Sheehan
Loretta Sheehan

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A family who sued Tripler Army Medical Center on Oahu for medical malpractice that severely impacted their child's ability to function, will receive a $9 million settlement.

The settlement was approved by the Federal District Court and the First Circuit Court for the State of Hawaii on Friday after years of court battles.

In September 2010, Laura Whitney was experiencing a high-risk pregnancy and had been flagged for a C-section to prevent a likely uterine rupture.

"She had difficulty with her cervix she couldn't seem to hold a baby," Loretta Sheehan said, one of the family's attorneys.

Three days prior to her planned delivery, Whitney began experiencing symptoms of the painful condition, which can often end in death for both the mother and baby.

She arrived at Tripler's Labor and Delivery Department, but was assessed by a resident physician with very little experience, according to the lawsuit. It stated that the physician and nurse who were assigned to treat Whitney both determined that she was likely experiencing a uterine rupture, but waited more than ten minutes before calling a more experienced doctor for help and finally rushing her into an emergency C-section.

As a result, Noah suffered a catastrophic brain injury and was born with cerebral palsy. He is permanently and completely disabled and will need 24-hour care for the remainder of his life.

"Noah is going to always need someone there to open doors, to take items out of microwave oven and to help him in and out of a shower," Sheehan said.

The medical center has a history of botched procedures. In 2015, it paid to settle two other lawsuits.

"It's just so important that a healthcare professional knows his or her limits," said Sheehan.

After the settlement was reached, attorneys in the case, from Davis Levin Livingston law firm, issued the following statement:

This settlement ensures that the injured child will receive the care he requires for the remainder of his life, no matter how long he lives. Of course no amount of money will repair the devastating brain injury this child suffered as a result of the delay in responding to Mrs. Whitney's uterine rupture, but the settlement will provide a quality of life that otherwise would be impossible.

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