Posted: March 7, 2017

In a decision that included important rulings on medical costs for victims of medical malpractice, Pennsylvania Superior Court has upheld a $10.1 million verdict against Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

The recent ruling stemmed from a case in which a Philadelphia Common Pleas jury in late 2015 found for a mother and her son, whose delayed diagnosis for meningitis at the CHOP emergency room resulted in deafness and developmental and learning delays.

In its ruling, a Superior Court panel unanimously upheld the largest portion of the verdict -- $7.5 million for the child’s pain and suffering. The defense had claimed the amount was “grossly excessive” but the appellate court noted that because of the child’s severe injuries, including his inability to express language, the award was “fair and reasonable compensation.”

In a statement to the news media, Kline & Specter’s Andy Stern, who litigated the case with co-counsel Elizabeth Crawford, said: “We are very pleased with the well-reasoned and thorough opinions issued by the trial court and now most recently the Superior Court. The time is long overdue for CHOP and its lawyers to acknowledge responsibility for CHOP’s inexcusable negligence, which caused Shamir Tillery to suffer profound deafness and brain injury that he will endure for the rest of his life.”

The verdict included $1.5 million for future medical care, which CHOP argued was improperly based on projections that included inflation. But Superior Court rejected CHOP’s arguments, citing a previous Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision noting that a plaintiff is “entitled to have defendant presently place in her hands the money necessary to meet her future medical expenses … so that she will have it ready to lay out when the service is rendered.” That part of the ruling by the appellate panel could have consequences for other future and pending cases.

The court also upheld delay damages, interest for the time it took to get the case to trial, as well as interest for the time it has taken for post-verdict appeals. That interest so far brings the total compensation in the case to about $12.1 million.