January 13, 2014

Golden Lady Justice, Bruges, BelgiumThe Cochran Firm’s Washington, D.C. office did not provide representation in the following case, but we thought it showcased the importance of the civil justice system for the average American citizen.

In the spring of 2011, Ashanti Norals went to an emergency room at the University of Chicago Medical Center with a pain in one of legs and a fever of more than 100 degrees. Doctors at the hospital diagnosed the 8-year-old with septic arthritis, which is a painful joint infection usually found in infants and older adults. Ashanti’s blood work revealed a raised white blood cell count. Additional tests indicated swelling in her leg. Even though the elevated white blood cell count indicated an infection, Ashanti’s medical care providers did not give her antibiotics until 24 hours after she was admitted to the emergency room.

Instead of antibiotics, medical records reportedly show that Ashanti was given morphine, ibuprofen and Tylenol as treatment. By the time she received antibiotics, she had gone into septic shock, which is a serious condition that occurs when an infection leads to life-threatening low blood pressure. Ashanti went into cardiac arrest and reportedly, she could no longer breathe independently and multiple organs failed. Ashanti had all four of her limbs amputated due to the untreated sepsis and gangrene, which was allegedly indicated by her condition and the medical reports. Ashanti also suffered from damage to her internal organs.

Ashanti’s mother Erica sued the hospital and its doctors for medical malpractice on behalf of her daughter. According to the lawsuit, four of the hospital’s doctors and several nurses allegedly failed to identify the signs of sepsis. The hospital settlement with Ashanti and her family for $32 million last fall. Erica said the family will use the much-needed funds to buy a fully accessible home for Ashanti, who now requires a wheelchair. The medical malpractice settlement award will also be used to pay for Ashanti’s medical care and for travel to medical facilities for advanced care.

Ashanti Norals case demonstrates how victims of medical malpractice need the civil justice system to hold negligent medical providers responsible. Without the $32 million settlement award, it may have been very difficult or impossible for Ashanti’s mother to provide adequate medical care for Ashanti. At The Cochran Firm, D.C., we provide professional and high-caliber legal representation to medical malpractice victims and their families. Cases like Ashanti’s demonstrate that justice can be served and even though no amount of money can heal a victim’s injuries, a successful medical malpractice claim can help victims and their families handle expenses and move on with their lives.

The medical negligence case is captioned Erica Norals v. The University of Chicago Medical Center, et al., No. 12 L 10528.