We recently settled a case with the Air Force arising from care provided at Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, Virginia. In the period before the delivery, the Air Force healthcare providers failed to recognize the signs and symptoms of chorioamnionitis and funisitis. Essentially, this is an inflammation and/or infection relating to the tissue surrounding the unborn baby as well as the umbilical cord. Once the mother went into labor, the problem was compounded by the failure to appreciate dangerous decelerations shown on the fetal heart rate monitor. In the whole process, the baby aspirated a significant amount of meconium. The result was that the child had a severe anoxic brain injury and he died about a week after the birth.
I will say that the Air Force lawyers handled the claim very professionally. The case was resolved for $475,000 without the family having to file suit. This limited the costs in the matter and kept the attorneys’ fees down. Of course, this means that the net recovery for the parents is markedly better than it would have been if we had had to file suit.
We handle FTCA cases all over the country. The agencies know us well – and I think they respect our abilities. Maybe this was a factor in this settlement. It’s hard to prove, but I think it does make a difference when the federal agencies know they are dealing with lawyers who know what they are doing.
I am glad we were able to get a decent settlement in this matter, but at the same time, I know that this money really doesn’t touch the loss suffered by these parents. Cases like this are among the saddest ones we see. What is supposed to be a joyous event becomes a nightmare that will haunt the parents for the rest of their lives. The money will not change that, but for better or worse, seeking money damages is the only avenue for redressing such wrongs, imperfect as the process often is.