Family awarded $58M in malpractice suit

May 26, 2011 3:47:18 AM PDT
An 8-year-old boy and his family were awarded a huge medical malpractice award in a lawsuit, after a Connecticut jury determined his medical problems were preventable.

Daniel D'Attilo, 8, needs constant care. He cannot speak, eat or walk.

On Wednesday, a Connecticut jury awarded him and his parents $58 million in a medical malpractice case against the obstetrician who delivered him.

"He got his life taken away from him, and the only form of justice is this," said Dominic D'Attilo, Daniel's father.

The $58 million includes $8 million for Daniel's past and future medical bills, and $50 million for pain and suffering.

The D'Attilos and their lawyers argue that Cathy D'Attilo's doctor, Dr. Richard Viscarello and Maternal-Fetal Care, failed to deliver Daniel early, despite complications. They say when Daniel was finally delivered by C-section, the surgery was done improperly, cutting off the oxygen to Daniel's brain.

"The dollar amount means he will be taken care of, that's what this means to us," Cathy D'Attilo said.

Lawyers for the doctor have vowed to appeal the verdict.

They say Cathy received the proper care and that Daniel's disability is due to an infection that went undetected before birth.

The award is the largest in Connecticut state history.

Some doctors worry it will have a chilling effect on their colleagues, who may be less likely to take high-risk cases for fear of jury awards like this one.

"At a time when we're trying to get more access, this type of case is a problem, less doctors, more patients, it doesn't add up," said Dr. Kathleen LaVorgna, of the Connecticut State Medical Society.

Because of the appeals process, it will likely be years, if ever, before the D'Attilos see a penny of the $58 million.

Because of the mounting medical bills, their house is being foreclosed on, and they're just hoping they'll be able to stay there, where Daniel is comfortable.

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