Feds Drop Appeal, Will Pay $42M to Parents of Boy Hurt in Forceps Delivery

February 7, 2018

The federal government has withdrawn its appeal and agreed to pay $42 million to the parents of a young Pennsylvania boy left disabled from brain injuries apparently caused by the use of forceps during his birth, the parents’ lawyers and the government announced Thursday.

“The government recognized that their issues on appeal were without merit and that the verdict was just and appropriate,” said Regan Safier, of Kline & Specter, a Philadelphia law firm. “The judge recognized the catastrophic injuries suffered by this child and awarded the money necessary to care for him over his lifetime.”

In a statement, U.S. Attorney David J. Freed said, “We respect the court’s decision in this matter, and wish nothing but the best for the minor child and his parents.”

The verdict last year by U.S. District Judge Sylvia Rambo in Harrisburg came after a six-day trial in 2016 on claims by the parents, Christiana Late and Nathan Armolt.

The Chambersburg couple’s 5-year-old son, identified only as D.A. in court documents, understands language but can’t speak, read or write and eventually will have to use a motorized wheelchair.

The couple sued the federal government for errors allegedly made by an obstetrician for Keystone Women’s Health Center, a federally-supported facility. An obstetrician, who was not sued, delivered the child Feb. 21, 2012, at Chambersburg Hospital.

The parents said the doctor used forceps to grab the boy’s head, causing skull fractures, brain bleeding and damage, even though the boy and his mother weren’t in distress and such a drastic measure wasn’t necessary.

The judge noted that the doctor began using forceps after Late pushed just one time during her delivery and that he was “straining, red-faced and sweaty” trying to extract the baby, even though the child’s and mother’s vital signs were normal and indicated no distress at that point.

Most of the verdict – nearly $33 million – is to cover the boy’s future medical care and assisted living. The judge agreed with the couple that their son “will be too difficult for his parents to handle” by the time he’s 22, and likely will need institutionalized care.

The verdict also includes $5 million for the boy’s pain and suffering, roughly $3.5 million for his loss of future earnings and fringe benefits, and $104,000 to cover past medical expenses.

Keystone officials have expressed sadness for the boy’s injuries and have said the hospital system has taken all the necessary quality assurance steps so that this does not happen again.

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