by Rob Varnon
May 25, 2011
A Waterbury jury has awarded a Norwalk child and his parents $58 million in a malpractice suit against a Stamford surgeon and his practice.
The case, filed in January of 2005, is the biggest single malpractice judgment in state history, according to Koskoff, Koskoff and Bieder, the Bridgeport legal firm representing Daniel Jacob D'Attilo and his parents, Cathy and Dominic D'Attilo.
The parents, whose child was born with severe injuries, said it was a day of relief for them on what has been a "rough, rough road."
A jury of six men returned the verdict against Dr. Richard Viscarello and Stamford-based Maternal-Fetal Care P.C. A call to MFC was not returned Wednesday, but the Associated Press reported that the doctor's attorney, James Rosenblum, called the verdict a miscarriage of justice that runs contrary to the evidence in the case.
Stamford Hospital, originally named in the suit, was later dropped.
Attorney Kathleen Nastri said she expects the decision to be upheld by the appellate court, but she could not say how long it would be until the D'Attilos see any of the money.
"That's my angel," Cathy D'Attilo told reporters as they looked at a photo of the 8-year-old. Dominic D'Attilo looked heavenward as his lawyers described what happened to their son, who has cerebral palsy.
The lawsuit was filed in 2005 after Daniel Jacob D'Attilo's birth on Feb. 2, 2003.
Dominic and Cathy D'Attilo had gone through difficulties to become pregnant and were under the care of Stamford-based MFC. On Jan. 31, 2003, Cathy's amniotic fluid dropped by half, but a cesarean section procedure was not conducted until Feb. 2, according to her attorneys.
Attorney James D. Horwitz, also a Koskoff lawyer, said the surgeon made abnormal decisions and ultimately the series of decisions deprived the baby of oxygen and caused cerebral palsy.
The result has left Daniel wracked with seizures, unable to speak, unable to crawl, unable to sit up, stand or reach the typical milestones parents and children often get to enjoy.
Cathy and Dominic say they've learned a lot from their son.
"We love him so much," said Dominic D'Attilo, describing how his son is smart and tries hard at everything, though right now his body is like a prison to him.
The parents plan to use the money for Daniel's ongoing need for physical and communications therapy and for wheelchairs. They will also use it to pay the more than $500,000 in medical expenses they've incurred since his birth and to possibly keep their home in Norwalk.
While they've been fighting the legal battle, the family also fell on hard times. Dominic is a mason and contractor whose business has suffered in the downturn. In 2009, Wells Fargo Bank filed a foreclosure action against the family.
"It will help us not go into the street," he said of the judgment.
Ultimately, the couple, who met 14 years ago in Bobby Valentine's former bar in Norwalk, say they remain dedicated to each other and to their son, and that they will fight for him "until death do us part."