A mother from Miami, Florida, was given a judgment of $33.8 million after the doctor left her delivery room while she was in the final stages of labor, causing the baby to be born with brain damage.
Marla Dixon told the Miami Herald she was in labor at the end of a pregnancy that was not considered high risk when the doctor started making a series of mistakes. The trouble started when Dr. Ata Atogho ordered a restart of a drug that strengthened contractions, then neglected to perform a cesarean section.
He then began leaving the room for extended periods of time once stepping out for an eight-minute conversation with his stockbroker.
When the baby was delivered on Dec. 2, 2013, his face was blue and he was limp. The baby was revived by a medical team but he was left with severe brain damage. Dixon said Atogho blamed her for not pushing hard enough and even falsified the medical record to say she refused to have a C-section.
“Not one time did he apologize,” she said. “He didn’t care. He kept going on with his lies. He blamed me.”
The child, Earl Jr., will require around-the-clock care for the rest of his life. Dixon hopes the payout will help finance her son’s care.
Although a verdict was delivered in the federal case, Atogho was not personally held liable for the outcome and not responsible for the $33.8 million payout because he was working for a federally funded clinic. The government will have to cover the cost of the lawsuit.
Dixon also discovered that she wasn’t the first patient to accuse the doctor of malpractice. The same year of Dixon’s delivery, Atogho delivered two other babies who were permanently brain damaged and one that was disabled for life, according to lawsuits filed by all three mothers.
The doctor has reportedly not faced any medical discipline and he still holds his license to practice medicine.
Many readers expressed shock over the case, and called for the doctor to be held accountable.
“After the first malpractice suits, why was he allowed to continue practicing?” one MommyPage reader commented on the site’s Facebook page. “I’m so sorry for your son’s condition but I’m sure he’ll bring you tons of love and joy anyway.”
“How in the hell is this man still delivering babies?!!!” another wrote. “This is not the first time that he has permanently injured a baby being born. Somebody dropped the ball here! And they owe this family…and the others before her’s…more than just an apology. Smfh!”
“Something similar (mildly) happened to my mom when she gave birth to me, long story short the doctor that delivered me falsified my documents saying I was at 8 months gestation when i was actually 2 weeks overdue,” wrote another commenter. “The forceps used on me slipped off twice ovee my face because I was too big to turn fully, so the third time he turned me and set his foot on the table to forcefully pull me out.”
I now have buzzing in my frontal lobe area and sometimes it gets excruciatingly painful. What he did effects my life on a daily basis and it’s too late to do anything about it. I’m happy to know that all of these quacks with licences to practice on people that need help are paying for what they do to people.”