Timmy Alexander - Lawyers Should Not Force Clients To Settle
October 5, 2016
Gail and Tom Alexander called 800-TRIAL MD. They were very upset that their local Detroit Attorney had forced them to agree to accept $625,000.00 as a full and final settlement of a case they had brought on behalf of their massively brain injured son, Timmy. The particularly odd thing was that the defendant hospital had not actually offered to pay the money.
You see, in some states like Michigan, there is a mandatory mediation process where both sides present their case, and a three-person panel recommends a settlement figure. If both sides accept the figure, the case is settled. If either side rejects, the case goes on. The Alexander’s first attorney gave them a “My way or the Highway” ultimatum. With his view of the case, $625,000.00 was a great figure and he virtually demanded the Alexander’s accept it. He threatened them, “If you don’t accept this figure, I will no longer be your attorney!”
Well, the Defendant Hospital apparently agreed that with this first attorney’s view of the case, the actual value of the case was well below $625,000.00. The Hospital therefore rejected and refused to pay this recommended figure. Little did the Hospital realize that it would ultimately cost them 5 times this much once the right law firm got involved.
The good news for Gail and Tom (and especially Timmy) is that they found 800-TRIAL MD. Gail had met a former client of 800-TRIAL MD, Diane Hill. Hearing Gail’s story, Diane recommended the Alexander’s call us. They did. After a lot of hard work and appeals that went before the Supreme Court for the State of Michigan, we settled Timmy’s case for $3,100,000.00 (5 times more than the first lawyer could not get the hospital to pay)!
The basic problem here is that the first lawyer did not understand the medicine. Timmy’s brain damage was a result of being born very prematurely, at about 25 weeks gestation (about 3 months early). This first lawyer alleged only that the doctors should have stopped the premature labor with which Gail entered the hospital. The problem with this “view of the case” is that stopping a premature labor can sometimes be tricky. Even done properly, in the face of ruptured membranes (broken waters) and signs of infection, it is not likely that the labor can be stopped for more than 48 hours. This is not enough time to really help Timmy very much.
When Mr. Spencer examined this case, he quickly discovered that the treating doctors had really failed much earlier in the pregnancy to treat a condition known as cervical incompetence. Gail and Tom told Mr. Spencer a heart-wrenching story about a child (Tommy) they had lost 1 year before Timmy’s birth. Tommy also was the product of a premature birth, but his was one week earlier. The doctors told Tom and Gail that little Tommy was too premature to survive. They offered to take Tommy to another room and let him die. Gail and Tom insisted on holding Tommy and comforting him to the very end. The anguish they must have felt watching their son die had to be unimaginable.
When Gail again got pregnant (this time with Timmy), the Alexander’s told the OB about what had happened to Tommy and they asked simply, “Please don’t let that happen again.” The way Tommy was lost immediately made Mr. Spencer think of the possibility of a weak (incompetent) cervix and he asked if anyone had discussed with the Alexander’s the use of a CERCLAGE---the very well established standard treatment for a weak cervix.
The basic idea was that after giving birth to three live children, four other pregnancies that did not produce live births and several cervical procedures, Gail’s cervix was so weak that it would not stay closed for the ~40 weeks that is a full term pregnancy. In fact, given her extensive cervical history, a good OB would have thought of cervical incompetence for Tommy’s pregnancy. But, certainly after Tommy died; any reasonable OB would have taken steps to make sure “it never happened again.” The step needed was a CERCLAGE, which is a simple “purse string” type stitch that essentially ties the mothers cervix closed and keeps it closed as the pregnancy progresses. THAT’S IT----A STITCH THAT WOULD HAVE SAVED TIMMY’S BRAIN.
Faced with the fact that Timmy’s new attorney had figured out what had really gone wrong, the Hospital ended up paying 5 times more than they were unwilling to pay to the first attorney who did not understand the medicine.
Timmy was not given back the life he should have had. We can never give someone back his or her health. But, at least Timmy is now well cared for. We are very proud of what we were able to do for Timmy.