Two weeks ago the appellate court covering Queens County drastically cut a jury verdict from $5,000,000 to $575,000 to a 9 year old child for an injury which occurred shortly after birth. The question presented was the value of an injury that occurs when a portion of the small intestine is surgically removed which results in a condition called "short bowel syndrome" or "short gut". This lifelong condition causes problems in absorbing nutrients. The primary consequence of this condition is diarrhea which can result in malnutrition, dehydration and weight loss.
This tragedy fell upon a baby born prematurely at 27 weeks. Two weeks after birth the infant developed necrotizing enterocolitis ("NEC") which is an infection of the intestines known to occur in preterm babies. The jury agreed with the plaintiff's theory that a delay in obtaining a surgical consult once the NEC was diagnosed and transfer the infant to a more appropriate hospital, was a departure from accepted standards. The jury also agreed that this delay was a substantial contributing factor: "which caused the infant's NEC to become more severe and complex, and resulted in the loss of more bowel". Hollingsworth v. Mercy Medical Center, 2018 WL 2124060