Ala. Supreme Court Reverses $3.85 Million Malpractice Verdict

September 5, 2007

The Alabama Supreme Court pointed to jury instruction error in reversing a $3.85 million award for a Jackson couple in a medical malpractice suit over the death of their 6-year-old son.

The ruling allows a retrial in Mobile County of the lawsuit filed by Angela and James Edward Wade against Mobile Infirmary and obstetrician Dr. Franklin Long following the 2003 death of Daniel Curtis Wade.

In the opinion by Justice Tom Woodall, the high court, without dissent, ruled that jurors in the five-week trial before Circuit Judge Ferrill McRae were given some information about Daniel’s hospital delivery in error.

Jackson attorney Mac McCorquodale, who helped represent the Wade family, said he’s disappointed the reversal came on a “technicality.” He said a reading of the opinion shows that his clients won the case.

“In instructing the jury, the court made a mistake. The Supreme Court chose to reverse. It had nothing to do with the Wades or their proof. We won the case,” he said.

The attorney for the defendants did not immediately return a phone message last week for comment.

The suit contended that the boy’s death was the result of complications caused during his birth in 1996. Daniel was born along with a twin sister, who is healthy.

The girl was born first and had no problems, according to testimony, but Daniel, who was second, was breached or feet-first.

The Wade attorneys argued throughout the trial that Long’s attempts to manually turn the baby around to allow it to be born head first, as is preferred, damaged the child’s brain.

Witnesses testified that a couple of hours after he was born, Daniel began bleeding in the brain.

The defense team argued that the bleeding was a result of being born 35 days premature.

Daniel lived for six years, during which he was immobile, incontinent, and unresponsive. Numerous surgeries were required to drain fluid from his brain, according to court documents.

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