Summary judgment was granted in favor of the Sheriff, the Chief of Corrections and jail staff in Lipsey v. U.S.A., et al., No. 12-cv-2100 (C.D. Ill. Dec. 12, 2016). The case was brought by a disabled minor, J.L., who was injured when her mother delivered while in federal custody at the Jerome Combs Detention Center in September 2009. J.L. brought a claim for medical malpractice against the jail medical staff and for ordinary negligence against the Sheriff and non-medical staff. Her mother, Wenona White entered the facility 11 days before her preterm labor. During those 11 days, she refused medical treatment and denied any problems with her pregnancy. Jail officials had difficulty scheduling White with a local obstetrician, but were able to find one willing to take her as a patient the day before she went into labor. An appointment was scheduled for the following week.
White awoke the morning of September 22nd with abdominal pain and was rushed to the ER via ambulance. The treatment and independent physicians who testified in the case agreed that White suffered a placental abruption either in the ambulance or after arriving at the hospital. J.L. was delivered by an emergency cesarean section and was born not breathing. She was resuscitated, but the oxygen deprivation resulted in severe, permanent physical and mental disabilities.
In considering J.L.’s claims, the Court acknowledged the tragic injuries she suffered and was not unsympathetic to it. However, the Court found that the actions of the jail staff were reasonable given what they knew at the time – namely, that White suffered no prior problems with her pregnancy, had one high blood pressure reading, and appeared otherwise healthy. There was no reason for the jail staff to foresee that White’s placenta would abruptly and acutely detach and deprive J.L. oxygen before birth. Therefore, the Court granted summary judgment in the defendants’ favor.
Michael Condon, Jason Rose, and Yordana Wysocki represented the defendants.