by Lynne Tuohy
The Hartford Courant
November 1, 2006
A young Windsor boy and his mother have secured what is believed to be the largest medical malpractice verdict ever in Connecticut for the type of injury he suffered during childbirth.
A Superior Court jury in Hartford Tuesday awarded $2.69 million to Tamar Earlington and her 4-year-old son, Omar Earlington Jr., after finding now-retired obstetrician Anthony Anastasi and F.A.L. Medical Associates liable for Omar's disabilities.
Superior Court Judge Lois Tanzer added $800,000 in interest to the award, because Anastasi two years ago rejected a $1 million settlement offer proposed by the Earlingtons' lawyer, Kathleen Nastri, of the Bridgeport law firm of Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder. That brought the total award to $3.49 million.
The lawsuit claimed that Anastasi failed to diagnose that Tamar Earlington had a small pelvis, failed to properly evaluate the pre-birth size of the fetus and used a vacuum extractor and excessive pressure to extract the baby, rather than performing a Caesarean section when the baby became lodged.
As a result, Omar suffered serious nerve damage to his right shoulder that severely impairs his arm movement.
"He has some movement in his right arm, because there was some slight recovery of the nerves," Nastri said after the verdict. "He cannot put his hand over his head. And he has contractures at the elbow and shoulder joint. His arm never fully straightens." His condition is known as Erb's Palsy.
Omar did not testify during the trial, but did make a brief appearance when his neurologist did a brief examination of him in front of the jury to detail his physical deficiencies.
The jury deliberated nearly three full days, after a 2 1/2 week trial, before returning its verdict at about 3:15 p.m. Tuesday.
Nastri said the verdict is significant to the family "because it allows them to make sure this baby is taken care of, that he gets the treatment and education he needs to overcome the disability." She said the family also was upset that Anastasi at no time acknowledged doing anything wrong during the delivery.
"This family felt like nobody was taking responsibility for this," Nastri said. "This is a very humble, solid family. Their faith is deep. I think they always felt their faith would prevail."