Appeals court overturns ruling in medical malpractice case against Contra Costa County Health Services

By Nicholas Gueguen | May 19, 2017

SAN FRANCISCO — The California First District Court of Appeal recently decided to overturn the Contra Costa County Superior Court's decision in favor of the plaintiff and sent a medical malpractice case back to the superior court for another trial.

In its April 27 decision on Brian Cuevas et al vs. Contra Costa County, the appeals court sent the case back to the superior court for another trial to decide how much Cuevas would be awarded in "future medical damages." The appeals court also overturned the the superior court's "cost and expert fees" amounts.

In its decision, the appeals court said Brian Cuevas sued Contra Costa County for medical malpractice after he had injuries at birth. The appeals court said Cuevas had brain damage while in his mother's uterus, and it could not be fixed. 

The appeals court said Cuevas' verbal IQ is "very low" and that he would never be able to read adequately because of his brain injury. 

The appeals court also said the brain damage has caused him to have trouble speaking, control how he acts and suffer from cerebral palsy, but that he was able to learn to use the toilet "and can walk, run and feed himself."

Cuevas and his guardian sued Contra Costa County Health Services, as well as 13 additional "health care centers and medical providers" on April 19, 2010, according to court documents. 

Cuevas accused the defendants of medical malpractice and not preventing his mother's "emotional distress." 

Cuevas said in trial that Dr. Teresa Madrigal, who worked at Contra Costa County Health Services and who was watching over the pregnancy, caused his injury when she did not follow "the applicable standard of care" because she did not arrange for Cuevas to be born before his mother had carried him 37 weeks.

The appeals court explained that the jury in the superior court jury ruled in favor of Cuevas and that he would receive $9.5 million for "future medical and rehabilitation care."

Contra Costa County appealed, arguing that the superior court made a mistake in its ruling because it did not factor in evidence that showed "health insurance benefits under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act would be available to mitigate plaintiff’s future medical costs."

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California 1st District Court of Appeal Contra Costa County Health Services

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