In the News

Attorneys say jury awards $58 million in medical malpractice involving pregnancy

by John Christoffersen
Associated Press

May 25, 2011

NEW HAVEN, CONN. — A jury awarded a Connecticut couple $58 million Wednesday after their baby was born with severe injuries in what the couple’s attorneys called the largest medical malpractice verdict in state history.

The jury in Waterbury Superior Court reached the verdict in favor of Dominic and Cathy D’Attilo of Norwalk against Dr. Richard Viscarello and Maternal-Fetal Care, attorneys for sides said.

The boy’s parents said they were grateful for the verdict and said it would provide for their son Daniel’s care.

“This is for our little boy,” said Dominic D’Attilo, a mason contractor. “Now we can move forward and worry about taking care of him like we always have.”

Cathy D’Attilo described her son’s birth as bittersweet.

“I had this beautiful baby boy, but it soon came crashing down that something terrible had happened,” she said.

The boy’s mother said her son has taught her patience.

“I thought I was going to teach him,” she said. “It turns out he’s teaching me. He’s an angel. He’s my bright light.”

The family claimed the doctor delayed performing a cesarean section. Their lawsuit said the brain-damaged baby, now 8, has cerebral palsy and can’t talk or walk.

James Horwitz and Kathleen Nastri, lawyers with Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder who represented the couple, say it is the largest medical malpractice judgment in state history. They said there was a similar case involving a $38 million award a few years ago.

“It’s an overwhelming victory for the parents,” Nastri said. “He is profoundly, profoundly disabled and the parents have gone through hell.”

The doctor should have performed the C-section when the woman came in for a visit and her amniotic fluid had dropped by half, but instead she was sent home, according to Nastri and Horwitz. They also said the doctor made incisions in the wrong place when the woman gave birth two days later.

When the baby was born, he was not breathing or moving, had no color and barely had a heartbeat, attorneys said.

James Rosenblum, attorney for the doctor, vowed to appeal the verdict.

Rosenblum said the verdict was driven by sympathy for the parents but was contrary to the evidence. He said the doctor followed proper procedures and attributed the baby’s troubles to a rare inflammatory complication that could not be detected before birth.

“It was a total miscarriage of justice by the jury,” Rosenblum said. “His treatment was impeccable. It’s a shocking verdict. There was overwhelming evidence supporting the doctor. There was no credible evidence supporting the plaintiff.”

The verdict came on the second trial. An earlier trial resulted in a hung jury.