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Largest California non-punitive verdict for single individual, including
interest and costs, Zivic v. Winterland 2001. Involved auto/truck accident
with claimed brake failure defense.
We recently tried an interesting case in San Francisco County Superior
Court. We represented a 56-year-old woman who was injured when her car
was struck from behind by a Mack truck at the Fourth Street off-ramp off
Highway 280. She was waiting at a stop light when the truck hit the car
behind her and then pushed her car into the car in front of her. The driver
of the truck claimed that his brakes failed at the last minute. At the
scene of the accident she did not seem to be seriously injured; nevertheless,
she was taken to the hospital where they discovered she was bleeding into
her brain. She was admitted to the hospital for an emergency craniotomy
to evacuate a large subdural hematoma. She was in a coma for three days
and woke to a partial paralysis. Several months later she had recovered
her motor abilities, but had residual cognitive deficits including memory,
concentration and the ability to perform multiple tasks simultaneously.
She attempted to return to work eight months after the accident as an
executive search recruiter, however she was unable to perform the demanding
aspects of her job. The defense contended that she was obviously bright,
articulate and therefore should be able to work. They also contended that
the brake failure could not have been anticipated. We convinced the jury
that she was not able to return to her previous employment and there was
not a brake failure. The defendant offered $3,500,000 in settlement, which
was rejected. The jury awarded $19,631,000. The judgment was entered for
this amount plus past interest and costs for a total of $21,000,000. Our
investigation indicates that this may be the largest net compensatory
(non punitive) award of its type for an individual in California state history.
Settlement for Neonatal blindness injuries to premature triplets after
failure to diagnose condition in a timely manner.
This case involved neonatal blindness injuries to premature triplets from
retinopathy of prematurity. One child was almost completely blind; one
child was almost completely blind in one eye and had partial loss of vision
in the other eye; and the third child had some functional diminution of
vision, primarily in one eye. Retinopathy of prematurity (what used to
be called rebrolentna fibroplasia can be treated if timely diagnosed.
It is a common problem in premature infants. We contended that the hospital,
neonatologist, and pediatricians failed to properly follow up and screen
these children and failed to diagnose the condition in a timely manner.
The defendants contended that the mother had been properly warned about
the condition and failed to obtain an eye exam in a timely fashion after
the triplets were discharged from the hospital. This confidential settlement
is believed to be the largest of its type in the history of the state
This California birth injury settlement is a state record.
The defendants failed to monitor this fetus during critical times before
the birth and when they did resume monitoring the child was in distress.
The baby suffered profound
cerebral palsy and will require 24 hour care for the remainder of its life. The value
of the confidential settlement is based on the cost of an annuity to fund
the settlement amount plus the cash agreed upon.
Record settlement for an obstetrical case.
Our birth injury specialist recently settled a case for $10,000,000 for
birth injuries to a child now 3 years of age. The 17 year old mother had
a normal pre-natal course, was admitted to the hospital for a trial of
labor with normal fetal heart tones on the monitor strip. Rupture of membranes
later revealed clear fluid and thereafter, a pattern of variable and late
decelerations developed with retained variability. In the early morning
hours, the late and variable decelerations continued with diminished variability.
The baseline became tachycardic with diminished variability with persistent
significant mixed late and variable decelerations with slow recovery.
This continued for approximately four hours to the birth. The mother developed
a fever or 38.5 after the epidural was given. The baby demonstrated a
similar after birth with a pH of 6.98 with a base deficit of 15.4.
The defendants contend that there was not sufficient loss of variability
to justify intervention. They contended that the cord gas did not evidence
significant metabolic acidosis and the child course after birth was more
consistent with intrauterine infection, bacterial infection than interpartem
hypoxia. Plaintiffs contended that there was clear evidence of non-reassuring
fetal heart tones suggestive of metabolic acidosis which required earlier
intervention. Plaintiffs contended that the baby’s presentation
after birth was classic for interpartum asphyxia and met most of ACOG’s
guidelines for hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy from interpartum events.
The child is a spastic quadriplegic, tube fed with global delays, including
severe cognitive deficits. Defense contented life-expectancy was limited.
Plaintiffs contended life expectancy was near normal. This is believed
to be a record settlement for an obstetrical case. This confidential settlement
is considered to be a record settlement or verdict in the state where
it was obtained.
This case against UCSF Medical Center was the largest medical malpractice
settlement in California history at the time.
Our wrongful death attorneys in San Francisco settled a case involving
the death of an athletic 38-year-old executive, who stopped at a
UCSF clinic at the airport complaining of chest "tightness," which
was relieved by Advil. The EKG was normal; there were no cardiac risk
factors. The doctor diagnosed chest muscle strain and allowed the decedent
to fly on to Colorado and then Mexico where he died 7 days after the clinic
visit. Unfortunately, his tissue was severely decomposed when it was returned
to the United States. There was no evidence of infarction, but there was
an 85% sclerotic lesion in the right coronary artery and congenital narrowing
of the left coronary artery. We contended that the decedent died of cardiac
ischemia. Defendants argued that the decedent appeared healthy and in
no distress and therefore the clinic symptoms were not cardiac and his
death was probably from some other cause. Our wrongful death attorneys
believe that this was the largest pre-judgment medical malpractice settlement
in California history as of 2002.
Record trial judgment for improper use of vacuum extraction and failure
to timely deliver baby.
Our birth injury lawyers tried a case against the United States government
in the Federal District Court of Hawaii. It was our contention that this
child had been injured at birth because of improper management of the
labor process. The defendants requested the case be divided into two trials,
one on the issue of the statute of limitations, and the other on the remaining
medical issues. We tried both issues in trials six months apart and won
both trials. The judgment was for $8.9 million. Our birth injury lawyers
were told at the time that this was the highest Ninth Circuit award for
an individual in a medical malpractice case.
Medical Malpractice in this mid-America state
Settlement for anesthetic-caused brain injury to 16 year old was the largest
verdict or settlement for a medical malpractice case in the state.
Record settlement for a neonatal/birth injury—baby suffered severe
spastic quadraparesis and relatively retained cognitive ability.
Our birth injury and neonatal attorneys settled this case for a record
amount. This child was born normally. In the first 24 hours, she was found
not breathing by a nurse and a code was called for resuscitation. During
the resuscitation process, the child was ventilated and the ventilator
equipment was later changed. The equipment change involved an improper
ventilator tube with no exhaust valve. The child was blown up like a balloon
and both lungs were ruptured. The child was immediately diagnosed with
bilateral ruptured lungs. The lungs were re-inflated and the child resuscitated
again. The baby ended up with severe spastic quadraparesis and relatively
retained cognitive ability. We contended the initial nurse missed the
symptoms of the child's impending apnea and failed to respond promptly
to the child's lack of breathing. We also contended that the respiratory
therapist should not have placed a ventilator tube that had no exhaust
valve. The defendants admitted the tube was improper but contended that
damage was done in the first apnic episode while the baby was in the mother's
hands and before the nurse came into the room. Our research indicates
this result is the top neonatal/birth injury settlement/verdicts in the state.
Neonatal brain injury
This confidential resolution involved a neonatal brain injury to a child
born normally. The baby developed respiratory problems and the nurse failed
to respond promptly to the deteriorating status. When finally treated
the respiratory therapist blew out the lungs causing the lung to collapse.
The doctors failed to diagnose this promptly and then failed to reinflate
the lung adequately. The child suffered major cerebral palsy and requires
24 hour care.
58 year old woman suffered a brain hemorrhage from a
We contended the radiologists had missed the aneurysm on a scan done two
years earlier when it could have easily have been treated. [$4,000,000]
We contended that the neuroradiologist who treated the later leaking aneurysm
was inadequately trained and used improper technique resulting in perforation
of the aneurysm and a major bleed causing a serious