A Jacksonville, Florida jury has awarded $5 million in legal malpractice damages to a family who blames national law firm Morgan & Morgan of botching their representation in a birth injury lawsuit, the Jacksonville Daily Record reports.
Attorney Lost Family’s Right To File Birth Injury Lawsuit, Jury Hears
On Wednesday, October 17, 2018, the jury for a circuit court in Sarasota County determined that Morgan & Morgan lawyer Armando Lauritano should be held 100% liable for Shawna and Rock Pollock losing out on their right to file a medical malpractice case against an obstetrics practice, nurse midwife and hospital.
Morgan & Morgan, ordered to pay the Pollock family a total of $5 million, plans to appeal the decision. “We defended this case because we think we are right. We still believe we are right. We have never ever had a verdict against our firm. We fully expect to win outright on appeal and have a judgment entered by the appellate courts in our favor,” said John Morgan, founder of Morgan & Morgan, in a statement emailed to the Daily Record.
A Case Of Medical Negligence
Attorneys for the family say the case stems back to November 2, 2006, when pregnant Shawna Pollock was admitted to Sarasota Memorial Hospital. Doctors at the hospital administered Pitocin, a drug used to induce labor, but her unborn child began to experience problems.
The baby’s heartbeat dropped precipitously and Pollock began to suffer from extreme pain. Eventually, an emergency cesarean section was performed, but it was too late to prevent the child from suffering severe and permanent brain damage. Pollock’s uterus had ruptured, starving her unborn child of oxygen.
Family Hired Morgan & Morgan For Legal Counsel
Soon after the birth, the Pollock family contacted the Morgan & Morgan firm, meeting with an investigator at the Ronald McDonald House, where they were staying, close to Tampa’s All Children’s Hospital where their infant was being treated. Ultimately, the family agreed to be represented by the firm, consenting to the company’s pay structure.
Morgan & Morgan Attorney Accused Of Prioritizing Fee
The Pollocks agreed to pay the firm up to 40% of their recovery for awards up to or below $1 million, 30% of awards between $1 million and $2 million and 20% for awards above $2 million. Legal malpractice attorneys for the family argued that Morgan & Morgan’s lawyers were so invested in earning a large fee that they failed to provide the defendants with a pre-suit notice of claim, which is required by Florida law.
Law Firm Dropped Case Early, Family Claims
Then, after learning that the Pollock’s child would be able to secure compensation through Florida’s no-fault compensation program for birth-related neurological injuries, and long after the state’s statute of limitations had ended, Morgan & Morgan pulled out of the case, leaving the Pollock family without an attorney to represent their additional claims, including claims of severe injuries to the mother and emotional suffering on the part of the father.
“Morgan & Morgan was focused so intensely on a potential multimillion contingency fee for the child’s devastating birth-related injuries that the firm neglected to focus on injuries caused to the parents, especially the mother,” the family’s lead attorney argued. Shawna Pollock is no longer able to have children.
Florida Jury Estimates $5 Million In Birth Injury Damages
To add insult to injury, the Florida jury also considered the merits of the Pollock’s case against their hospital and nurse midwife, finding that these defendants would have been found liable for the child’s injuries. Jurors said that Gulf Coast Obstetrics and Gynecology, Laura Danner, C.N.M. and Sarasota Memorial Hospital had been negligent in performing the birth. The jury also determined that the damages in the case should be calculated at $5 million, in the event that the Pollock family had not lost their right to file suit.
Thus, the jury could only conclude that the Pollocks had lost out on the opportunity to secure $5 million in damages. In finding that attorney Armando Lauritano had been negligent in handling the Pollocks’ case, the jury held the lawyer liable for the family’s loss, to the tune of $5 million.