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Health Care Providers Beware: Birth Injuries Still Lead to Large Pennsylvania Jury Awards

Among Pennsylvania lawyers, it is well known that juries in Philadelphia County are prone to rendering large awards to personal injury plaintiffs.  On the other hand, however, it is generally assumed that jurors in other areas of the state of Pennsylvania tend to award monetary amounts which are much more reasonable and/or realistic.  One exception to this general rule appears to be in a case involving a birth injury.

In a recent case in Delaware County, a jury awarded $40.26 million to the family of a six year old who suffered a spinal cord injury during birth.  Plaintiffs had claimed that the delivering physician used excessive force during the delivery causing a severe traumatic spinal cord injury and below-the-waist paraplegia.  The jury awarded approximately $10 million dollars for past and future pain and suffering, with the remainder of the verdict being comprised of future medical care expenses and future lost wages.

In 2017, a western Pennsylvania jury in a federal case awarded $14.48 million to a family alleging a mishandled delivery which led to the infant to develop severe cerebral palsy.  According to plaintiffs, the infant, almost five years old at the time of trial, also developed impaired cognition and required 24-hour care.

Certainly, western Pennsylvania jurors generally are viewed as conservative and unlikely to render large verdicts.  The same can also be said of Delaware County, in the western suburbs of Philadelphia.  Nevertheless, these recent large verdicts prove that, even in the most difficult jurisdictions for plaintiffs, a birth injury case still has a high likelihood of returning a large verdict in the right case in Pennsylvania.

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