Injury To Children Verdicts

Injuries to children raise special concerns-and not just because of the emotional issues involved.

From a legal standpoint, injuries to children may be treated differently, because in many states children are not held to the same standard of care as adults would be in the same circumstances.

Therefore, there may be liability for injury to a child where there would not be, or where liability would be limited, if the victim were an adult.

The defendant in a personal injury case involving a child may be held to a higher standard, as well. When children are involved, the duty of care is often greater, particularly when an adult or company has been charged with the care of the child in question.

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Where a child is the victim of a personal injury, it's also important to carefully consider any long-term limitations or medical requirements when assessing damages, which may be more difficult to quantify than when the victim is an adult already working in his chosen profession.*

*Results taken from recent news articles. Results not typical. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

$1.5 Million Child Abuse Award for Emotional & Physical Harm

An Oregon woman was awarded $1.5 million in damages for the harm inflicted on her by her stepfather who allegedly abused her when she was a child.

The 24-year-old woman filed the personal injury lawsuit under the state law that allows adults to sue their childhood abusers. She was awarded $1.5 million for noneconomic damages like pain and suffering and about $53,000 in economic damages for past and future psychological counseling.

The woman's personal injury lawyer said she thought the jury verdict was one of the largest of its kind in the state.

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$4.25 Million Injury Verdict against Hospital for Negligent Delivery that Caused Cerebral Palsy

A Washington State jury awarded $4.25 million to a child who developed cerebral palsy because of a negligent delivery.

The birth injury lawsuit was filed on behalf of the 5-year-old and alleged that the hospital delayed the child's birth for at least 20 minutes after the mother's placenta abrupted, causing the baby to be deprived of oxygen. The lack of oxygen caused brain damage and left the child with cerebral palsy. The child can't walk or talk.

The brain injury verdict includes $350,000 for the girl's past medical costs, $2.5 million for future related expenses and $1.4 million for pain and suffering.

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$11.7 Million Injury Verdict for Day Care Death

A Washington State jury awarded $11.7 million to the parents of a 2-year-old boy who drowned while in the care of a day-care provider.

In 2004, the boy wandered away from his day care, crossed a street and went into a nearby lake, where divers eventually found his body under a dock.

The day-care provider said she was settling a dispute among other children at the time of the boy's disappearance.

The parents sued the day-care provider because they didn't have a fence. They also sued the state for issuing the day care a license even though they knew it didn't have a front-yard fence.

The jury found the state responsible for 81 percent of the injury judgment and the day-care provider responsible for 19 percent of the award.

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$160,000 from Oklahoma state agency for mishandling of case that lead to toddler's death

A family received a wrongful death settlement from the Oklahoma Department of Human Services for the death of a two-year-old boy at the hands of his own father. The father was convicted on criminal charges after pouring boiling water on him and waiting one day before calling for emergency help. Oklahoma DHS was responsible for removing the child from his mother's custody and entrusting him to his father's care before the incident occurred; the personal injury lawsuit filed against them alleged that caseworkers were guilty of mishandling or falsifying reports that would have shown problems with the father's level of care before the incident occurred.

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$1 million to family for injuries after swing set collapses

The city of Palmetto, California reached a $1 million settlement with the parents of 2-year-old Lexi Antorino after she suffered a broken neck and skull fracture leading to a coma when a swing set collapsed at a local city park. Since the injury, a city judge has supervised an arrangement for her extensive care with a neighborhood association; the $1 million settlement will pay for continued care for the girl.

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$18.2 Million for Florida Welfare Failure to Stop Abuse after Warnings

9-year-old Melissa Amora received a massive settlement worth $18.2 million from the Florida state Child Welfare Department after she received irreversible brain damage due to abuse from her mother and her mother's boyfriend. The lawsuit was brought against the state on her behalf for its failure to listen to warnings made by doctors and nurses who saw evidence of abuse but allowed Amora to return to her mother's care. According to news reports, the settlement was the largest claims bill passed by the Florida Senate in a decade.

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$130,000 for Son Killed at Intersection

A couple whose 5-year-old son was struck and killed by a truck settled a lawsuit with the city of Gilroy, California over negligence in failing to properly sign the intersection. Traffic engineers hired in the case pointed to many defects in the intersection; it ranks as the 13th most deadly in the area. When the city convicted the driver for the accident, instead of enforcing jail time, the city released the driver on probation and allowed her to pay a minimal fine. The $130,000 amount will come from several insurance policies, including the driver's as well as the city's.

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$125,000 to mother for child services misuse of authority

The department of Children and Youth Services (CYS) in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, reached a settlement with Patricia Shope to resolve a lawsuit she brought against CYS alleging that her daughter Breyonna was taken from her inappropriately. Patricia Shope was accused of having drug problems and making her baby sick on purpose, when medical records showed that she visited the doctor 16 times in one year, mostly for ear infections. The Shope family spent nearly $12,000 on psychiatric evaluations, testing and attorneys' fees proving that Patricia Shope was a fit parent, and now CYS has agreed to a settlement of $125,000 in order to resolve the lawsuit Shope filed against them. The state board also modified regulations to correct the problems that kept young Breyonna from her mother Patricia.

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$82,500 for dog bite by K-9 unit German Shepherd

A Washington County, Oregon boy suffered a bite by a German Shepherd police dog who was left loose in his garage by a Washington County sheriff in November 2004. His parents filed a lawsuit against the county in order to recover damages for medical care, counseling and other treatment, after the boy received 187 stitches on his cheek, ear and underarm to close wounds opened by the dog bite. According to police regulation, the dog should have been locked in a kennel or fenced area when the handler isn't present, but the kennel door was missing a bolt. The lawsuit was settled for $82,500.

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$1.5 Million Settlement to Mother for Foster Care Abuse of Son

The State of Maryland settled a lawsuit for around $1.5 million with the mother of a 6-year-old boy who was abused while in foster care, resulting in severe brain damage that requires around-the-clock care. A teenage girl allegedly slammed the boy's head into cement steps in July 2004, bringing about the lawsuit against the state as well as workers at the Baltimore City Department of Social Services. The $1.5 million provides the mother with a lump sum of $580,000 and a lifetime annuity of $80,000 per year for the boy's continued care, which cost the state $908,000.

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Tucson Family Receives $8.5 Million for Death of Daughter by Drunk Driver

The family of Ebonee Moody, of Tucson, Arizona, who was struck and killed by a drunk driver, will receive a total verdict amount of $8.5 million for the death of the 14-year-old girl. Pima County, Arizona will pay $520,000 of the judgment amount, while Mike Ellsworth Baker, who is currently serving an 11-year sentence for manslaughter in the accident, will pay the majority of the sum. The county was determined to be 13 percent at fault, due to roadway conditions and visibility that made the road dangerous. Baker was driving a vehicle with inadequate brakes and a broken speedometer, and was found to have a blood alcohol content of between 0.18 and 0.24 when the accident occurred.

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$856,000 Toddler is Hawaii Record for Dog Bite Injury

A Hawaii Circuit Court jury found a Kahala, Hawaii woman liable for a Hawaii record $856,000 for failing to keep her Rottweiler on a leash. The dog attacked a 2 1/2-year-old boy. Keeton Manguso, now 5 years old, was only 24 pounds in 2005 when the 100-pound Rottweiler attacked him on Kahala Beach. It took a large, former University of Hawaii football player punching the dog in the head to force it to let go of the small boy. $500,000 of the award amount was for punitive damages. It is the largest dog-bite verdict award in Hawaii state history.

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Judge Upholds $20 Million Verdict for Foster Parent Negligence

A judge in Tulsa County has denied a request for a new trial and has upheld a $20 million award for negligence decided against Deanza Jones, the foster parent of Aurora Espinal-Cruz. In January 2002, the 7-month-old child died in her crib of what a medical examination revealed was a "respiratory illness." However, her living conditions directly contributed to her premature death. According to news reports in the Tulsa World, lawyers for the estate of the young child claimed in their suit that "17 days after Aurora was placed in Jones' filthy foster home, the previously healthy baby was found in an unchanged feces-filled diaper, surrounded by vomit, with some of her skin eaten away by cockroaches." The Oklahoma Department of Human Services previously paid $175,000 to settle claims for its responsibility in the case.

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Paraplegic Girl from Costa Mesa Receives $55 Million for Accident

A young girl named Leilani Gutierrez, now 9 years old, was the victim of a car accident in 2002 that left her paralyzed. She has undergone 24 surgeries, spent more than 250 days in the hospital, and has a life expectancy of around 35 years. However, due to a recent $55 million jury award, she and her mom will be able to live out the rest of their lives with some amount of comfort. The crash occurred when a U.S. government employee ran a red light, smashing into the side of the Gutierrez family suburban and sending into a light pole. The non-jury trial was presided over by U.S. District Court Judge Alicemarie Stotler, and her award includes no punitive damages, only covering medical care, lost wages and pain and suffering.

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Father Gets $3 Million When Wife Allegedly Kidnaps Sons

An Anne Arundel County Circuit Court jury awarded $3 million in compensatory and punitive damages to Michael Shannon, against Nermeen Khalifa Shannon and Afaf Khalifa, the mother and grandmother of his two children. Shannon has been trying to recover his two sons since his wife and her mother reportedly fled with them to Egypt in 2001. The jury ruled that Shannon had proved "economic and emotional injury" for trying to have his children returned to him. Shannon and his wife shared custody of their children when his ex-wife allegedly fled to Cairo.

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$1.5 Million for Toddler Death

A jury in Robeson County awarded $1.5 million to Daniel and Melissa Pruitt for the death of their 1-year-old daughter, Clarissa Julyan Pruitt in 2001. The child died of cardiac failure and severe myocarditis, likely caused by a viral infection. The couple's attorney said the girl was brought to Southeastern Regional Medical Center with an excessively high heart rate, signs of respiratory distress, and blueness around the mouth. X-rays showed fluid collecting in her lungs. The lawsuit charged that medical personnel did not respond appropriately to her symptoms and should have been transferred to another hospital. Experts testified that if she had been treated appropriately, she might have had a 90 percent chance of survival. The hospital released a statement saying they would not appeal the verdict.

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$300,000 for Child Drowning in Uncle's Swimming Pool

The parents of a four-year old who drowned a backyard swimming pool have settled with Mark and Annette Sheely, the child's aunt and uncle, for $300,000. The child was found lying the pool around 9 a.m. A Cumberland County Judge approved the settlement agreement.

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Judge Refuses Appeal to Reverse $26.8 Million Verdict in Florida Child Beating

An appeals court in Palm Beach, FL would not reconsider its decision to uphold a $26.8 million verdict against the Florida Department of Children and Families for failing to protect a toddler a near-deadly beating that left her brain damaged and unable to care for herself.

A panel of three judges from the 4th District Court of Appeal unanimously ruled in November that there was enough evidence to uphold a 2005 Palm Beach County jury's verdict that DCF was negligent in its handling of the case of Marissa Amora, who is now eight. Amora was beaten into a coma by her mother's boyfriend in 2001 when she was a toddler, and has to be fed through a tube.

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Tulsa Jury Awards $20 million in Foster Baby's Death

A Tulsa County jury awarded $20 million in damages to the estate of a 7-month-old girl who reportedly suffocated in a roach-infested, filthy crib while in foster care in 2003. Attorneys for the estate of Aurora Espinal-Cruz had alleged that the infant's sister, who was four at the time, listened to the baby cry and die, and alleged that the infant has suffered roach bites from unclean conditions in the home of foster parent Deanza Jones. Jones' attorney had claimed that Espinal-Cruz had died of a respiratory illness and that there was no evidence showing negligence, roach bites, or unclean conditions. The jury disagreed, determining that Jones had acted in "reckless disregard" for the rights of the child. Attorneys for Jones did not say whether they planned to appeal the verdict in Oklahoma Supreme Court. The children had been placed in Jones' home in 2001 after a teacher reported seeing bruises on the four year old.

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$18 Million for Toddler Injury

Jury Finds Hospital Guilty of Cover-UpAn Oklahoma jury has awarded the Brandon and Brittany Shinn, parents of a 2-year-old boy, $18 million for injuries the boy sustained while staying in a hospital that didn't report the injuries. Nathan Shinn was admitted to HCA Health Care Systems of Oklahoma for testing at nine months old. During his stay, a nurse carrying the boy hit his head on a nightstand but did not report the incident. After discharge, the Shinns noticed the injury and returned to the hospital, which then reported the Shinns to the police for potential child abuse after tests showed that Nathan had a fractured skull. The nurse who injured the boy confessed to the injury only after both parents were investigated for child abuse and passed lie detector tests. The parents alleged that the hospital had told parents that the nurse who injured the child had been fired and that her actions had been reported to a state nursing board, when in fact the nurse had resigned of her own volition and no report had been made to a nursing board. Nathan Shinn died a year after the head injury, of causes unrelated to the incident in question. The Shinns were awarded $9 million in punitive damages, $5 million to Nathan, and $4 million to the Shinns in compensatory damages.

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