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Jury hits UChicago Medicine with $14 million verdict after boy’s death

University of Chicago Medical Center must pay $14 million to the estate of a boy who died several years after he was born with severe brain damage at the hospital, a Cook County jury decided.

The jury reached the verdict March 8 after a three-week-long trial in Cook County Circuit Court, according to attorneys for the boy’s estate. The jury awarded the estate of Oluwasemilore Praise Oyedapo about $14 million due to the loss of a normal life, disfigurement from his injury and for grief, sorrow and mental suffering, among other things.

A spokesperson for UChicago Medicine declined to comment on the verdict.

The wrongful death lawsuit, filed on behalf of the Oyedapo estate in late 2020, accused the hospital of medical negligence leading up to his birth, resulting in brain injury and his subsequent death.

His mother, Omotola Oyedapo, was 33 weeks pregnant in July 2016 when an ambulance brought her to the hospital, with complaints of weakness and severe abdominal pain, according to the lawsuit. She was also experiencing low blood pressure, the lawsuit contended.

She was taken to the emergency department and seen by nurses. Yet there was no written record of any doctor assessing her in the emergency department, nor of any call by emergency department staff to have her evaluated by labor and delivery personnel, according to the lawsuit.

About 50 minutes after she arrived at the hospital, Omotola Oyedapo was taken to the labor and delivery department. It was determined that the baby had a slow heart rate, and Omotola Oyedapo was “taken immediately from triage to the OR for emergent cesarean section,” according to an operative report quoted in the lawsuit.

Her son was born, and it was confirmed that she had suffered placental abruption, which is when the placenta separates from the uterus before delivery, according to the lawsuit.

Medical personnel performed chest compressions on the baby, and intubated him within two minutes of his delivery, according to the lawsuit.

It was determined, according to the lawsuit, that he had sustained a hypoxic ischemic brain injury, which can happen when the brain doesn’t receive enough blood or oxygen for a period of time. He was ultimately diagnosed with cerebral palsy, as a result of the injury, the lawsuit alleged.

Oluwasemilore Praise Oyedapo died in December 2020, when he was 4 years old, of cardiopulmonary arrest due to his brain injury, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleged that the hospital did not appropriately monitor the baby before he was born, and didn’t consult quickly enough with an obstetrician who could perform a Cesarian section.

UChicago Medicine denied those allegations in court documents.

The $14 million verdict is “a significant recognition for the family that they received negligent care which took their son from them and destroyed his life while he lived it,” said Charles Bletsas, senior counsel with law firm Grant & Eisenhofer, who represented the boy’s estate in the case. “Because of the needless delay, the avoidable delay, a child’s life was devastated and a family was … forever changed.”