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Arroyo v. United States

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
656 F.3d 663 (2011)


Facts

At birth, Christian Arroyo contracted a bacterial infection known as Group B Streptococcus (GBS) from his mother, Maria. Because the treating physicians failed to diagnose and treat the infection, Christian suffered severe brain damage as a result. The physicians involved were affiliated with Erie Family Health Center, Inc. (defendant), a health clinic that received federal funds for the purpose of treating low income individuals. Shortly after his birth, Christian exhibited several symptoms indicating he had GBS. Upon her discharge, Maria was not informed by hospital staff that, had Christian been properly diagnosed and treated, his resulting injuries could have been prevented. During the birth of their second son, the Arroyos (plaintiffs) learned that Christian’s injuries could have been treated and prevented. The Arroyos filed a medical malpractice suit pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) in state court against the federal government (as the funding agency for Erie). The Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) would shield the Erie physicians from liability while acting within the scope of their duties with the federal government assuming liability for any negligent acts they commit. 42 U.S.C. § 233(g)(1). The suit was later removed to federal court. After a bench trial, the district court found that the physicians had committed negligence and awarded the Arroyos $29 million in damages. The federal government appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Cudahy, J.)

Concurrence (Posner, J.)

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