A Nova Scotian boy of just 7 is now $6 million richer after winning a settlement against the hospital and obstetrician whose 2010 delivery left him brain damaged. The amount awarded is the greatest in a personal injury settlement in the province’s history.
Cullan Chishom was delivered after his mother’s labor was induced in July of 2010. Although his mother, Monique Chisholm, was properly connected to fetal monitors, two nurses and obstetrical resident Dr. Allison Ball missed signs that the fetus was suffering from oxygen deprivation during the delivery. Because that deprivation lasted for a long time, the baby was born unresponsive with his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck and had to be taken by helicopter to a specialized hospital to be chilled by incubator in hopes of minimizing his brain damage.
The case alleged that had the delivery been halted in favor of a C-section, the brain damage suffered by the infant which will now result in the need for lifelong 24-hour-per-day care could have been limited or mitigated entirely. Although mistakes can be made in any realm, physicians and healthcare personnel are held to a higher standard of care and, the case alleged, should have known to make different choices in this delivery to prevent the catastrophic physical harm suffered by the child which has now led to an ongoing financial and care burden weighing on the family.
Today, Cullan suffers from cerebral palsy and is severely cognitively impaired. He needs aid in all his daily functions, including feeding and toileting, and will need lifelong care from his parents. This year alone, his care will likely cost about $70,000, with costs soaring to at least $130,000 by the time he is 21. His family has invested much of the lawsuit’s proceedings in an annuity that will cover his care costs through the remainder of his life. They will use other money to pay for adaptions to his home made to facilitate his wheelchair and other care necessities.
The lawsuit settlement is the result of a seven-year battle undertaken by Cullan’s family against the Nova Scotia Health Authority as well as the Canadian Medical Protective Association, who represented Dr. Ball. And although a settlement results in no acknowledgement of wrongdoing, the amount of money awarded that the parties agreed upon is symbolic in recognizing that medical malpractice is very serious and those injured should seek counsel from a personal injury lawyer to protect their future interests as well as hold those responsible for their harm accountable.