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(Photo Caption: The VanSlembrouck family attends a press conference in their lawyer’s office. [Photo courtesy of the Detroit News.])
In what might be Michigan’s largest medical malpractice verdict ever, a Macomb Township family has been awarded $144 million for the lifetime care of their daughter, who has cerebral palsy (CP).
According to the Detroit News, 15-year-old Markell VanSlembrouck acquired CP as a result of a birth injury sustained at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oaks. The lawsuit alleged that doctors were grossly negligent in their decision not to perform a C-section on Markell’s mother, Kimberly. As a result of being delivered through the birth canal, Markell suffered multiple hemorrhages, severe brain damage and a fractured clavicle. She weighed 10 pounds, 11 ounces at the time of her birth.
“Her injuries were the worst of any that have negligently been inflicted on an innocent child in the history of Michigan, perhaps the United States,” said the VanSlembroucks’ lawyer, Geoffrey Fieger.
Medical opinion remains divided on the “set baby weight” for C-sections. Some doctors say ten pounds is the upper limit for vaginal births, while others say that external factors, like a mother’s size and weight, must also be considered. Even the U.S. Department of Health remains uncertain about Cesareans; saying the decision to undertake them is often “unclear.”
What’s certain about this particular case is the agony Markell’s parents felt during the legal process, and the extreme costs it takes to care for a person with CP. According to a National Institutes of Health study, it takes about $1,500 a week to cover all expenses. A portion of the $144 million, in Markell’s case, will help pay for her 24-hour care for about 77 years.
“It’s been an emotional time,” said Kimberly VanSlembrouck. “It’s not about getting rich. It’s helping a poor baby who didn’t ask for this.”
In a written statement, Beaumont Hospital said it “disagreed with the verdict,” and that Markell’s condition was related to a “genetic condition.” The hospital declined to give more specifics, only saying that it plans to appeal the verdict.
If you or a loved one has a child who suffers from CP as a result of a birth injury, we would welcome the opportunity to speak with you. All of our initial consultations are free and confidential.
Tags: Birth injury, birth injuries, birth injury lawsuit, Kimberly VanSlembrouck, Markell VanSlembrouck, cerebral palsy, Michigan birth injury lawsuit, costs of caring for someone with cerebral palsy