$1.96M settlement for legal malpractice in cerebral palsy childbirth case

2005 Trial Lawyers Report Form

The plaintiffs were a brain damaged 10 year old girl and her parents. The plaintiffs contacted the defendant law firm about a potential medical malpractice case involving obstetrical negligence a few months after the delivery of the minor plaintiff in 1995. The law firm agreed to represent the plaintiffs. The law firm did not adhere to the provisions of the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) requiring written notice to the United States within 2 years of the alleged negligence. The law firm was unaware that three of the four potential defendants in the medical malpractice case were federal employees working at a federally funded health center. The law firm did not discover the potential defendants' federal employee status until after the two year notice period had expired.

Given the law firm’s failure to comply with the FTCA notice provisions, the federal court dismissed the three federal employee physicians from the case. The First Circuit upheld this decision. The medical malpractice case was tried in state court against the one remaining defendant doctor. The jury returned a verdict for the defendant.

The plaintiffs then sought redress for the law firm’s failure to comply with the FTCA notice provisions. A legal malpractice action was filed, and written discovery requests were served. The case was settled before any written discovery was answered, and before any depositions were conducted. The case settled for the limits of the available insurance policy. It was a two million dollar policy with a wasting provision for defense costs.

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