A jury decided unanimously to award a family $19 million for the death of their baby girl six years ago. Yet, the family will never see that money due to a state law.
Baby Sabrie Nash was born premature, hospitalized for two months after birth, and diagnosed with respiratory distress syndrome.
She was able to go home, but a short time later she got sick. She started struggling to breathe.
“The mother reported at times she wasn’t breathing at all and seemed to go limp during these episodes,” said Brian McKeen, Founder of McKeen & Associates in Detroit. The medical malpractice firm represented the family.
Attorneys say they found the emergency room doctor at DMC Children’s Hospital of Detroit looked the child over, ordered a chest X-ray, but before the x-ray was reviewed sent the child home.
In the meantime, the X-ray revealed baby Sabrie might have dangerous pneumonia. No one called the family to warn them.
“It was very simple,” said John LaParl, an attorney on the case. “She needed to be in the hospital.”
“The family was not notified of this chest X-ray, went along thinking she was okay, and 38 hours later she died,” said McKeen.
The jury found this unacceptable and awarded a verdict of $19 million.
Attorneys say due to Michigan laws capping jury awards, the family will never see close to that sum. The cap for this case is about $780,000. That is about 5% of the verdict.
“I think it is tragic,” said McKeen.
Attorneys on the case say the money will not bring back baby Sabrie Nash.
They do hope it sends a message to doctors. They need to be aware of the special needs of premature infants suffering from respiratory illnesses. They are vulnerable and need extra life saving care. It is a matter of life and death.
DMC Children’s Hospital of Detroit provided no comment on this case.