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Court Discusses Approval of Settlements in New York Birth Injury Cases

Medical malpractice lawsuits arising out of birth injuries can be complicated and costly to try to verdict, and the outcomes of such cases can be unpredictable, even if the evidence weighs strongly in favor of the plaintiff. Thus, in many instances, it is prudent for a plaintiff to settle with the defendant prior to trial. Settlements in birth injury cases differ from settlements in other cases; however, in that a court must review and approve the proposed settlement, to protect the interests of the injured child. In a recent case, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York discussed the factors weighed in evaluating settlements in birth injury cases. If your child was injured at birth because of incompetent medical care, it is prudent to speak with a seasoned Rochester birth injury attorney to discuss what compensation you may be able to recover.

Factual and Procedural History

It is alleged that the plaintiff was scheduled to deliver her child at the defendant hospital. Due to difficulties encountered during the delivery, however, she was transferred to a second hospital where she underwent an emergency C-section. Her daughter nonetheless experienced brain damage which was caused by a lack of oxygen during delivery. As such, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the doctors and nurses involved in her treatment. Discovery was conducted, and some defendants were dismissed via stipulation and ultimately, the plaintiff and the remaining defendants came to a settlement agreement. The court then held a conference to determine the fairness of the settlement to the plaintiff’s child.

Approval of Settlements in Birth Injury Cases

The court noted that Local Civil Rule 83.2 governed settlements on behalf of infants. Specifically, the rule requires a proposed settlement to include an affidavit from the infant’s representative that sets forth the facts out of which the lawsuit arose, the extent and nature of the damages suffered, the proposed terms of the settlement agreement, and the manner in which the settlement will be distributed, and any other information that is pertinent. Additionally, the attorney for the plaintiff must provide an affidavit explaining his or her reasons for recommending the settlement, and describing the services he or she rendered to the plaintiff.

In evaluating whether to approve a settlement for an infant, the court must assess whether it is reasonable, fair, and sufficient, by evaluating the terms of the settlement with the likely outcome of the litigation. It is presumed settlements are fair where there has been sufficient discovery, the settlement is not collusive, and the parties’ attorneys are experienced in handling such matters. In the subject case, the court noted that ample discovery was conducted, and the settlement amount adequately compensated the plaintiff and her child for their alleged harm. Further, the court noted that settlement allowed the plaintiff to avoid the risk of litigation. Thus, the court approved the settlement.

Speak with an Experienced Malpractice Attorney

If your child suffered harm at birth due to negligent care, it is in your best interest to speak with an experienced Rochester birth injury attorney regarding your potential claims. The dedicated attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers are adept at handling complex malpractice cases, and we will zealously pursue the best result available under the facts of your case. You can contact us through our form online or at 585-653-7343 to set up a confidential and free meeting.

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