T.J. Samson Community Hospital is asking for a more-than $18 million verdict be altered or reversed in a civil case involving a boy who suffered a brain injury during his birth at the hospital in 2007, or for a new trial to be granted.
Among the contentions made by T.J. Samson is that the hospital’s insurance will not cover the entire amount of the Barren County jury’s verdict, meaning reductions in staff and services could be imminent if the judgment stands.
Attorneys for T.J. Samson filed two motions Friday in the case, which went to trial in November and ended Nov. 25 in a jury’s award of nearly $18.3 million to Tristan Hamilton, now 7, by and through his mother, Brittney Hamilton.
Hearings on both motions are expected to be heard in Barren Circuit Court at 9:30 a.m. Jan. 7.
According to the filings, T.J. Samson believes evidence presented during the trial was insufficient. The hospital notes that although various witnesses addressed the hospital’s standard of care and the boy’s brain injury, none of the hospital’s treating pediatricians testified.
The Hamiltons presented three witnesses who testified that the hospital’s nurses fell short of the standard of care during Brittney Hamilton’s labor by increasing the dose of a drug, Pitocin, above a specific level without the authorization of Hamilton’s physician, Kelly Dirig.
A motion calling for a standard of review or a directed verdict argues that the Hamiltons’ evidence failed to establish that the alleged breach of the standard of care was the cause of Tristan’s condition.
Dirig, who was also named as a defendant when the lawsuit was filed in 2011, was cleared by the jury of the accusation of medical negligence.
Another motion, in which T.J. Samson asks the court to “alter, amend or vacate” the judgment or grant a new trial, the hospital claims it is entitled to a new trial on several grounds, among them:
• because six jury members failed to disclose they had outstanding balances owed to the hospital totaling nearly $228,000;
• because the jury’s verdict of nearly $18.3 million was excessive due to the influence of passion and prejudice and contrary to the evidence and the law;
• because a “day-in-the-life video,” during which Brittney Hamilton demonstrated how she puts on Tristan’s shoes and braces, that was admitted as evidence was “outweighed by the danger of undue prejudice and was unnecessarily cumulative” and should have been excluded.
T.J. Samson asks that if a new trial is not awarded, then the amount of damages awarded to the Hamiltons be reduced. The motion said “the amount of the verdict, if paid in full, would have a devastating effect on any hospital.
“Unfortunately this reality is all the more true for T.J. Samson and, consequently, the communities of Barren County and beyond. The verdict exceeds the hospital’s available insurance coverage. The hospital will be responsible for $7,300,000 from its own assets. Should the verdict remain, the inevitable result will be staff, health service, and capital reductions to account for the liability. This is not hyperbole or exaggeration – it is reality.”
Meanwhile, another motion filed Thursday in the case regards attorneys Jeffery T. Barnett, Wesley R. Butler and Benjamin M. Fiechter of the law firm Barnett, Benvenuti and Butler of Lexington joining H. Jefferson Herbert and Brian K. Pack of the Glasgow law firm Herbert, Herbert and Pack as co-counsel for the hospital.