Concerned over an ongoing fever and other symptoms, Shantice Tillery took her baby to the emergency room at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Doctors there sent her away with little treatment and a presumed upper respiratory infection. She returned a second day because her son’s condition had worsened and, after treating for a presumed respiratory ailment, she and her child were sent home yet again. By the third day, due to concerns about her son’s progressive worsening symptoms, the baby was brought by ambulance again to the ER, where doctors finally performed tests for a bacterial infectious process and discovered 11-month-old Shamir was suffering from bacterial meningitis.
But the diagnosis came too late. By the time he was given antibiotics to combat the infection, Shamir had suffered irreversible neurological damage. Today, at six years old, he has profound deafness in both ears, a loss of balance and severe learning disabilities. He will never be literate nor earn a high school diploma. Had doctors performed the correct tests more quickly and not delayed treatment, the Philadelphia child would have emerged from his ailment perfectly healthy and without the permanent deficits he will endure for the rest of his life. That was what Kline & Specter attorney Andy Stern told a jury at the close of a protracted four-week trial in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court.
This week, a jury deliberated just three and half hours in agreeing with Stern and co-counsel Elizabeth Crawford. It returned a $10.1 million verdict to Shamir and his mother for the child’s past and future care as well as his pain and suffering. Delay damages will likely increase the award to $11.5 million. Stern argued in Rebuttal that “…CHOP had multiple opportunities over a period of days, not just minutes or hours, to timely diagnose and successfully treat Shamir’s bacterial condition by simply using antibotics”.
An article in The Philadelphia Inquirer noted that although the verdict was large, it was by no means the largest medical malpractice verdict in history. The largest- ever in Pennsylvania was $100 million in a 2000 case involving a young girl who was severely injured following a botched surgical procedure. The plaintiff’s attorney in that case was also Andy Stern. Learn more about misdiagnoses and medical malpractice.