Jury awards $3M in medical malpractice case

Posted July 01, 2011, at 5:09 a.m.

AUBURN, Maine — The Androscoggin County Superior Court jury deliberated for roughly four hours Wednesday and two hours Thursday before reaching a split verdict.

It found that Irene Meyers, a midwife, breached the standard of care when she oversaw the birth of Hannah Tilton and that her failure caused Tilton injuries.

The jury awarded Tilton nearly $2.3 million for future medical and health care expenses, plus $345,000 for past medical expenses and $500,000 for the girl’s permanent impairment and loss of enjoyment of life.

The jury rejected a claim against the hospital that alleged it represented Meyers or her practice as its agent.

The jury also rejected the claim of Tilton’s mother, Johanna Xochitil, that she was unable to function as a result of her mental illness starting at the time of her daughter’s birth and lasting for at least two years.

At issue were questions about the cause of her medical problems and whether the midwife aiding in her delivery was responsible for any of those problems.

The nine-day trial spanned three weeks. The judge handed over the case to the jury of four women and five men at noon Wednesday. The jury was instructed to resume deliberations at 8:30 a.m. Thursday.

Hannah Tilton, now 10, was born at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston with severe mental retardation. She uses a wheelchair and must use a feeding tube for sustenance. She is blind and can’t speak or communicate verbally, according to lawyers involved in the case.

She lives with her father, Phillip Tilton, who sued on behalf of his daughter. Until this year, she lived in a state foster home.

Tilton was diagnosed with Kabuki syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that derives its name from the facial features found in people born with it.

Tilton’s attorney, William McKinley, had argued that the disorder doesn’t explain all of Hannah Tilton’s symptoms. She must have suffered injury because of a lack of oxygen during labor when a fetal monitor indicated there was a problem.

Christopher Nyhan, an attorney for Irene Meyers, the midwife, argued that Meyers followed standard medical care procedures, an assertion that he said was backed by the obstetrician who took over the delivery and the nurses who assisted.

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