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MIAMI — A South Florida law firm recently helped an Arkansas family win a $46.5 million settlement in a medical-malpractice case.

According to a report by the Daily Business Review, the Smalls family had sued Dr. Johnathan Lewis and Ouachita County Medical Center in Camden, Arkansas. The family accused them of negligence when their baby, Kara, was born.

Kara was born with jaundice and, because it was not treated appropriately, bilirubin — a substance presence at high levels is indicated in the blood by jaundice — entered her brain, causing permanent damage.

Stuart Ratzan and Stuart Weissman of the Ratzan Law Group in Miami represented the family, along with Kimberly Boldt and Mario Giommoni of The Boldt Law Firm in Boca Raton and Jim Lyons of Lyons & Cone in Jonesboro, Arkansas.

The Smalls’ previous child was born in Tampa and went through phototherapy, which is a common treatment used to cut down on high levels of bilirubin, according to Web MD.

A jury in Union County in Arkansas, where the two-week trial was conducted, filed its verdict on March 9.

Deirdre Gilbert, the national director at the National Medical Malpractice Advocacy Association, told the Florida Record that when it comes to medical malpractice, the case represented a huge accomplishment.

“In the present medical system, many cases do not find their way to a courtroom, so in terms of this award I am glad to see it moved through,” she said. “If you relate that to the cost on a human life being destroyed, this would not suffice because it is really hard to determine the cost of life.”

“There are several cases where these things are appealed, but the evidence of a 'live' toddler makes it very difficult to refute these allegations,” she said. “Florida has several laws as it relates to medical malpractice, but there is no limit on the amount of compensation a medical-malpractice plaintiff can recover for past and future medical care necessitated by the malpractice, lost income, lost future earning capacity, and any other measurable economic losses attributable to the defendant’s malpractice. In the case of someone who is not alive, attorneys usually ask for the judge to lower the amount of the compensation to that of the caps of that state.

“There is a joy that the family received justice, but we are hoping that we can stop the harm, and if not, then all can receive justice.”

The law team for the Ouachita County Medical Center included Jamie Estes of Cox, Cox & Estes in Fayetteville, Arkansas; Paul McNeill of Reece, Moore, McNeill & Pendergraft in Fayetteville, Arkansas; and John Hall and Nichole Hair of Hall Booth Smith in Atlanta. Lewis was represented by Moore, McNeill & Pendergraft.

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Ratzan Law Group
1450 Brickell Avenue
Miami, FL 33131

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