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Tripler to pay $9M settlement for boy's cerebral palsy

By Jennifer Sinco Kelleher

LAST UPDATED: 05:48 a.m. HST, Jan 29, 2014

Attorneys for a Virginia boy with cerebral palsy say his family and the Honolulu military hospital where he was born have reached a tentative $9 million settlement.

The amount, put on the record in federal court in Honolulu on Monday, is subject to final approval by the U.S. Department of Justice, said Loretta Sheehan, one of the family's attorneys.

According to the family's lawsuit, Noah Whitney was born in 2010 at Tripler Army Medical Center with "catastrophic brain injury" because of medical negligence.

Allegations in the lawsuit include failing to respond appropriately to signs and symptoms of uterine rupture and taking too long to perform a cesarean section. Laura Whitney arrived at the hospital on Sept. 7, 2010 with severe lower abdominal pain at about 35 weeks of pregnancy. The pregnancy was closely monitored because of previous miscarriages and the complicated birth of her first child, Evan.

The mother "was at risk for uterine rupture in connection with future pregnancies, including her pregnancy with Noah," according to the lawsuit filed in July 2012. The lawsuit alleges that there was a "failure to promptly notify and consult the obstetrician who had been managing" the pregnancy.

The lawsuit blamed the hospital for Noah's severe brain injury and said he "will require 24 hour per day care for the remainder of his life."

A Tripler spokeswoman declined to comment. The assistant U.S. Attorney representing the government didn't respond to requests for comment.

Sheehan said $5 million will be paid as a lump-sum and the remaining $4 million will be paid over time for the remainder of Noah's life.

The family has since moved to Virginia.

University of Hawaii law school professor Hazel Beh noted that medical malpractice settlements are a way for consumers to get information in an industry where information isn't easily accessible. But the settlements are often confidential, except when a government institution is involved.

"It probably skews the perception for sure because you've got private entities that can keep it private," she said. "Certainly, the public has interests in these suits, as taxpayers."


Follow Jennifer Sinco Kelleher at http://www.twitter.com /jenhapa

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localguy wrote:
Exactly. We need a change from the Federal Government requiring all hospitals like Kaiser, Queens, Kapiolani, every hospital in the USA to clearly post all lawsuits against them on a government website. Allow searching by city, state, hospital chain, type of suit, everything. Level the playing field and watch hospitals work even harder to prevent medical mistakes. This works as it does when police departments are required to openly post all complaints against officers. Sad to say HPD is still too Jurassic, hiding all their bad boy officers. Yes, unions are a legend in their own mind.
on January 29,2014 | 06:45AM
jess wrote:
The lawsuit is public knowledge but the nature of the case isn't (patient privacy) and the settlement is also confidential unless the claimant discloses the amount.
on January 29,2014 | 11:49AM
localguy wrote:
Exactly what I said but only because it is a US Government hospital. Others can keep them out of the news.
on January 29,2014 | 04:46PM
twitter6 wrote:
Delivery all babies via c-section. Problem solved and no one to blame.
on January 29,2014 | 08:11AM
localguy wrote:
Not the answer. c-section can have surgery complications, infections, cost more. Clearly you must be a male poster with no clue what women go through.
on January 29,2014 | 04:47PM
fshnpoi wrote:
sad for baby noah and what he'll be going through for the rest of his life. many may not agree, but the mother and father should be accepting some of the responsibility themselves. i understand wanting to have your own kids, but previous miscarriages, and complications w/her last child should make one think of the risks and danger to your newborn or yourself before trying to have the next one. on another note, taxpayers are footing the bill...not tripler.
on January 29,2014 | 11:46AM
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