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Fertile v. St. Michael's Medical Center

169 N.J. 481 (2001)

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Fertile v. St. Michael’s Medical Center

New Jersey Supreme Court

169 N.J. 481 (2001)

Facts

Danialie Fertile (plaintiff) was born at St. Michael’s Medical Center (defendant). Doctors initially planned to deliver Fertile by caesarean section due to her expected size. After Fertile’s mother (plaintiff) progressed further in labor, Dr. Buontempo (defendant) determined that Fertile needed to be delivered vaginally. Due to Fertile’s size, she became wedged behind her mother’s pubic bone. The delivery resulted in Fertile sustaining injuries that paralyzed some arm muscles and weakened others. Fertile had a limited range of motion in her right arm and extremely limited use of her right hand. Fertile’s mother was also injured during the delivery due to a surgical enlargement of her vagina. After a trial, the jury awarded $15 million in damages to Fertile and $3 million in damages to Fertile’s mother. The hospital and Dr. Buontempo filed a motion for a new trial or, in the alternative, a request to reduce the damage award as a remittitur. The trial court granted the motion and remitted the damages to $5 million to Fertile and $250,000 to Fertile’s mother if they agreed; otherwise a new trial would be granted. Fertile and her mother agreed. The hospital and Dr. Buontempo then appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Long, J.)

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