This is sort of a sad news/good news/bad news settlement of a medical malpractice case in Virginia. The sad news is that an infant (Hunter Morris) who was delivered in 2001 at the University of Virginia Hospital suffered horrible injuries at birth, including cerebral palsy and brain damage, due to the negligence of his doctors.
The good news is the case just settled for $1.35 million. The settlement was a long time in coming due to the fact the foundation which employed the doctors who delivered Hunter argued it (and the doctors) were immune from suit by any patient because of the charity care they provide to indigent patients. You see, Virginia recognizes the doctrine of “charitable immunity.” However, the Virginia Supreme Court found the foundation’s charitable losses represented only 0.66 percent of the $225, 898,000 million in revenue generated in 2005 by foundation doctors. The Virginia Supreme Court held the foundation, and its doctors, were not protected from the lawsuit as their operation did constitute a charity.
The bad news is that Virginia has a cap on damages which limited Hunter’s recovery. The estimated cost to care for Hunter for the rest of his life – $9 million. So the settlement will never come close to paying for what is needed. Who will pay the remainder? The family and the taxpayers…not the foundation which had over $225,000 in revenues in just one year!