Lee county family was awarded a $19.2 million verdict, in a medical malpractice suit. In 2007 Kiarra Smith was born premature at HealthPark Medical Center. As a result, her physician ordered her to receive nutrients by IV administration. Unfortunately, hospital personnel gave her 100 times the prescribed dose of nutrients. Kiarra is now three and is blind with cerebral palsy. The Smith family’s
Medical malpractice attorney stated that the nutrient overdose led to a cardiac arrest and
Kiarra will be in a wheelchair her entire life. Not only will she never walk, she suffers from brain damage, and she will also always have to wear a diaper. The money awarded by the jury is supposed to compensate her for the cost of all of her past and future medical expenses in addition to damages for loss of enjoyment of life and pain and suffering.
While the size of the verdict will undoubtedly raise the eyebrow of many tort reformers, the truth is the verdict is really not that large. Economists generally value the cost of past and future medical care for someone in Kiarra’s condition somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 or $20 million. In fact, depending on her specific problems, the cost of her care could be more. What tort reformers fail to realize is that if the wrongdoer does not pay for this care, then we the taxpayers will.
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Furthermore, in Florida, tort reformers have already successfully lobbied the Legislature to reduce compensation against a hospital for loss of enjoyment of life and pain and suffering in situations like this one to $1.5 million. As a result, whatever portion of the verdict involves such damages will be substantially reduced.