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Trumbull judge awards $28.7 million in suit over birth injury

By Ed Runyan

Thursday, January 1, 2015

By Ed Runyan


A judge in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court has awarded $28.7 million in damages to a Warren family whose son was born in 2010 with cerebral palsy as a result of oxygen deprivation during his birth.

That is believed to be a record amount for an award in a civil case in common pleas court, larger than the $13.9 million awarded by a jury in December 2010 to a 10-year-old girl and her family under similar circumstances.

Judge Peter Kontos issued a short judgment entry Friday saying he was awarding $28,745,991 to Nathan Wolcott and his parents, Jennifer and Matt Wolcott, of Willard Avenue Southeast. It does not say who will pay the judgment.

The amount ordered is $24.9 mil- lion for cost of future care, $2.9 mil- lion for lost earning capacity and $500,000 each to Jennifer and Matthew Wolcott for noneconomic loss.

The lawsuit originally named a Warren obstetrician and two nurses as defendants, but nurse Nicole Prusky of Newton Falls is the only one of those three parties left in the lawsuit.

Attempts to reach attorney Christopher Mellino of Cleveland, who represents the Wolcotts, was unsuccessful Wednesday afternoon. Attorney Timothy Shimko of Cleveland, who represents Prusky, also could not be reached.

Matt Wolcott, when reached Wednesday, said he had no comment.

The lawsuit was filed in 2011, saying Nathan Wolcott, now nearly 5, was born in ValleyCare Trumbull Memorial Hospital on Feb. 24, 2010, with Dr. Jean Cairns serving as obstetrician.

Prusky and Janice Gober provided care during the labor and delivery, the suit said. Gober was later dismissed from the suit.

A filing from December said negligent care by Prusky caused oxygen deprivation and resulted in severe irreversible injury to Nathan’s brain and “developmental delays and inability to function as a normal child his age.”

During a December trial to the judge without a jury, Wolcott’s attorneys presented evidence regarding the injuries the boy suffered, the cost of future care and economic losses to the boy.

A filing says the boy will “require assistance with personal care for bathing, dressing, positioning, hair and mouth care throughout his life. It is likely that he will require 24/7 caregiver support due to his communication and functional mobility challenges.”

Documents in the file for the case say the Warren Ohio Hospital Co., doing business as Trumbull Memorial Hospital, is not dismissed from the suit.

A call to the spokesman for ValleyCare Trumbull Memorial Hospital and an attorney for the hospital company were not returned Wednesday afternoon.

The Wolcott suit is similar to one that went to trial in 2010 in common pleas court that resulted in a $13.9 million judgment by a jury against Dr. Tara Shipman, the obstetrician who delivered Haley Cobb at Trumbull Memorial in January 2000.

Haley likewise was diagnosed with cerebral palsy resulting from lack of oxygen during labor and delivery. That judgment is tied up in appeals and has not been paid.