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Federal Judge Awards $60.9 Million to Parents of Baby Born Brain Dead at US Naval Hospital – U.S. Government Found Guilty of Medical Malpractice

November 25, 2005
Colson Hicks Eidson

Miami, Florida, November 25, 2005 – Federal Judge Jose A. Gonzalez ruled from the bench on November 23, 2005, the day before Thanksgiving, finding Mayport Naval Station in Jacksonville, Florida guilty of medical negligence in the delivery of Kevin Bravo Rodriguez. Judge Gonzalez awarded Kevin and his parents, Raiza Bravo and United States Navy Serviceman Oscar Rodriguez, $60.9 Million in damages – the highest award in a Federal Tort Claims Act.

On the morning of June 10, 2003 Raiza Bravo reported to the Navy Hospital of Jacksonville for a previously scheduled induction and delivery of her baby, who was healthy but post term. Bravo’s water broke at approximately 4:00pm in the afternoon and exhibited meconium, a sign of fetal distress. Throughout the afternoon and evening hours, the meconium worsened and by 3:00 am, June 11th the baby’s heart rate began to decelerate. Notwithstanding, nurses and doctors at the US Navy hospital continued to monitor Raiza and treat the birth as if no risk existed. By 4:40am, Raiza began a temperature of 101.3 degrees Fahrenheit and the fetal decelerations continued. Despite what experts testified to as “blatant evidence of fetal distress”, the nurses and doctors proceeded with the vaginal birth. At 7:30 am the hospital shift changed and a new obstetrician and nursing staff took over. The obstetrician was told that everything was normal and did not review any of the medical records. He proceeded with the vaginal birth. Throughout the morning the decelerations increased, the meconium thickened, and the baby was trapped in the birth canal. Nevertheless, by 12:00 pm Raiza was told to “push” in an attempt to deliver her baby vaginally.

Nearly 29 hours after Raiza had entered the hospital, the baby’s heart rate crashed – indicating that he was dead. The doctors rushed to deliver the baby via cesarean section, but they were too late. Baby Kevin was blue, had no heart rate and was not breathing. After 15 minutes of CPR and 3 epinephrine injections, doctors were able to resuscitate him. Kevin, however, had been without oxygen for too long and was brain dead. “The doctors were egregiously negligent,” said the attorney for the family. “This is like a lifeguard watching a drowning victim flailing his arms, gasping for air, and waiting until he’s at the bottom of the ocean to go save him. It’s too late.”

Kevin is now two years old, but as a result of the medical negligence, he can not speak, hear, see, swallow, or move – but he can feel pain. Kevin requires 24 hours of care. During the two week bench trial, Oscar Rodriguez testified that he would give his life for his son. The next day, he was deployed to Iraq to serve his country. News of the Judge’s ruling was conveyed to him via email. “This is a very sad case and an important one”, said the family’s lawyer. “A Federal Judge, not a jury, examined this case and found that pain and suffering are priceless, but an award for pain and suffering is the only way to compensate victims.”