Jury Awards $24.5 Million to Husband and Children of Woman Died After Delayed Cesarean Section Delivery

Cesarean section (c-section) delivery is a surgical procedure to deliver a baby through incision in the abdomen and uterus. A doctor may need to perform a c-section in an emergency situation if the mother or baby becomes distressed. In other instances, c-sections are planned several weeks or months in advance if there are pregnancy complications or the previous pregnancies had c-section deliveries. Delaying an emergency or planned c-section can cause harm to the baby and also risk the life of mother.

At 10 a.m. on July 21, 2015, Lilia Torres was scheduled to give birth to her fourth child by Cesarean section delivery. However, her procedure was delayed and was not performed until after midnight on July 22, 2015. Torres bled to death after the delivery. The family of Lilia, consisting of her husband and four children, filed a lawsuit against the group of doctors responsible for performing the delivery.

At a damages-only trial, the doctors conceded they were negligent and were found to be negligent at the trial. After the jury deliberated for two hours, they awarded Torres’ husband and children with a total of $24.5 million. Torres’ husband, Rodolfo Vargas Chavez, received damages in the amount of $3.675 million. For the loss of parental companionship, instruction and guidance and for their pain and suffering resulting from the injury and death of their mother, the older three children will receive $4.9 million apiece while the youngest child will receive $6.125 million.

Medical malpractice is medical negligence that occurs when a medical professional fails to perform their job duties with the standard of care recognized, acceptable, and required in the profession. A patient injured while in the medical care of a doctor or other healthcare professional may have a claim for medical malpractice. In a lawsuit to recover for the injury and damaged caused the medical negligence, the plaintiff has the burden to prove medical malpractice. A medical professional is liable for medical malpractice if:

  • He had duty to provide a standard of care to the plaintiff that is required in the particular medical profession;
  • The duty was breached;
  • The breach caused an injury to the plaintiff; and
  • The injury resulted in damages to the plaintiff

Doctors not only have a standard of care to give their patients, they also expected to utilize their education, experience, training to competently treat their patients. Delay in treatment may increase the risk to health and condition of the patient. A medical professional that is liable for medical malpractice is responsible for paying compensation for the damages of the injured plaintiff. The monetary award covers damages such as, medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and mental anguish.