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Florida appeals court uphold medical malpractice verdict

Florida's Third District Court of Appeal has upheld the decision of a jury to award $12.6 million for a tragic turn of events back in 1998 at the University of Miami medical school. It involved their then-2-year-old daughter.

According to a Jan. 13, 2012 article in the Sun-Sentinel after the award was announced, the Miramar, Florida, girl's spleen and some other organs were removed when she was first born because of intestinal problems. When her mother took her for a check-up in the fall of 1998, a medical assistant gave the girl a vaccination that was intended to help protect her against infections, which she was susceptible to because she had no spleen.

The vaccine the little girl was given, however, had expired. She contracted pneumococcal disease, which the shot was intended to prevent. She developed clots in her legs and arms. Her limbs became gangrenous, and they had to be amputated.

The original jury, however, found the mother to be at fault as well as the university and one of its physicians. The defendants, who included UM as well as four physicians and the estate of another physician, argued that she had failed to give her daughter penicillin as she was instructed to do as a back-up for the vaccine she was given at the medical school. They claimed that she would have contracted the condition even if she hadn't been given a stale vaccine.

The jury found the mother to be 40 percent at fault for her daughter's illness and subsequent amputations. As the Sun-Sentinel article noted, on the verdict form the jury noted that the judge "will make an appropriate reduction in the damages awarded."

Medical malpractice cases can be complicated. Injuries and illnesses are not always the fault of one health care professional and in fact, may be caused or exacerbated by non-professional caretakers. It is worthwhile nonetheless to seek legal guidance to help determine what role negligence or malpractice by medical professionals contributed to a problem. Malpractice awards can significantly help a victim and family members with the expenses needed to heal or for long-term care.

Source: Daily Business Review, "Updated: 3rd DCA Upholds $12M Malpractice Award Against UM" Noreen Marcus, Jul. 30, 2014

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