A 7-year-old girl, who now suffers from debilitating permanent brain damage because when she was an infant she had to wait hours for doctors to evaluate her at the Lawrence Hospital emergency room, has won an $11.3 million lawsuit against the hospital and two physicians.
Katherine Munian was born at the Bronxville hospital in June 2006. Just nine days later her parents contacted her pediatrician to report that she was having trouble breathing. The pediatrician, Dr. Grace Ilanjian of Eastchester, told the worried parents, who lived in Mount Vernon at the time, to take the newborn back to the hospital.
What happened next was at the heart of the lawsuit filed in 2008. A jury at state Supreme Court in White Plains ruled on the lawsuit last week after a two-week trial and two days of deliberations.
Katherine and her parents — Nicole, a teacher at Stony Point Elementary School and Marlon, who was a physician’s assistant at the time Katherine was born and is currently a medical student — now live in Monroe, N.Y.
“It’s a big relief for the family,” said attorney Jordan Merson of Merson Law, at the time with the Manhattan law firm of Kramer Dillof Livingston & Moore.
Child suffers permanent brain damage after hospital, doctors failed to diagnose her heart defect
The lawsuit alleged that the hospital and two doctors failed to examine the infant for hours after her parents brought her to the emergency room.
The baby struggled to breathe during that time as her parents watched helplessly, their lawyer said.
By the time doctors checked the girl, her body temperature dropped to 92 degrees and she had turned blue, according to court documents. It took another two days before doctors figured out that the baby was born with a heart defect.
She was transferred to a New York City hospital where she had successful surgery to open her twisted aorta to restore blood flow.
But by that time, the infant had suffered permanent brain damage from a lack of oxygen.
She now has limited use of her hands and can not engage in many simple tasks, like brushing her teeth, catching a ball or turning a doorknob. She can walk, but falls often and receives special education services at school, her lawyer said.
The jury found that Lawrence Hospital was 50 percent responsible for the child’s condition. Her pediatrician, Ilanjian, was found to be 25 percent responsible and the neonatologist who treated her, Dr. Suresh Khanna, was also found to be 25 responsible.
Both Lawrence Hospital and Khanna settled the case for an undisclosed amount. Ilanjian is responsible for 25 percent of the $11.3 million verdict.
Lawrence Hospital spokeswoman Tracy Conte declined to comment as did Khanna’s lawyer, Michael Madden of New York City.
Ilanjian was represented by attorney Carl Weinberg of White Plains. He was unavailable Monday and no one else was able to comment on the verdict, his office staff said.
Ilanjian was licensed to practice medicine in New York in 1990, according to state records. She had no earlier malpractice judgments or disciplinary actions. She remains on staff at Lawrence Hospital.
Khanna was licensed by the state in 1987 and also had a clean record, according to a state database. He is no longer practicing at Lawrence Hospital.
Merson Law’s Principal Attorney Jordan Merson is widely considered one of the top medical malpractice lawyers in New York State. Jordan Merson has handled all types of cases and a substantial portion of his practice is dedicated to children and those injured at or around the time of birth, as well as wrongful death cases. Merson has litigated cases that has resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in recoveries. Merson Law has a doctor that is part of the team that reviews all medical malpractice cases. Contact Merson Law for a free consult today.