Brooklyn Jury Awards $5M To Autistic Child--Failure To Prevent Pre-Term Labor Causing Premature Birth
On February 2, 2017, a Brooklyn jury found that an obstetrician, Dr. Rubin Frenkel failed to diagnose and prevent pre-term labor in a woman who was 25 weeks pregnant. Her baby's birth weight was 1.5 pounds. At the time of trial the child was 9 years old. The mother claimed that that low birth weight and prematurity was a substantial cause of her child's autism.
The defense filed a pre-trial motion to prohibit the mother's expert neurologist from testifying to the jury that there was any causal relationship between low birth weight/prematurity and autism. Justice Marshall Steinhardt, a well respected jurist who routinely handles medical malpractice trials, ruled that the plaintiff's theory was not junk science. "Rather, it is based on at least 10 to 15 well planned and scientifically executed research studies, conducted within the current century." A jury agreed that the doctor failed to prevent the pre-mature labor and that the delay was a substantial cause of the autism.
The $5,000,000 award included $2,250,000 for the child's pain and suffering (both past and for the rest of his life) and the balance was allocated for future lost wages and the costs of various therapies and custodial care.