Family gets what could be largest jury award in Colorado in malpractice case against Children’s Hospital

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DENVER -- It could be the largest malpractice verdict in Colorado history. A jury has awarded a Colorado family $17.8 million after a baby girl’s life changed forever at Children’s Hospital Colorado.

Every day tasks are a struggle for Naomi Pressey and her family.

“She is seven years old functioning at a three or four-year-old level,” said Jim Puga, attorney for the Pressey family.

Naomi’s future wasn’t always so challenging. She was born with a fairly common heart defect, which the family thought would be cleared up at Children’s Hospital Colorado when she was just four days old.

“It’s fairly easily repairable,” Puga said. “Chlidren’s (Hospital) physicians and experts agreed with this. It’s a relatively routine surgery.”

But Puga says an incorrect dose of medication before the surgery stopped Naomi’s heart for 33 minutes. By the time doctors could revive her she had suffered permanent brain injury and cerebral palsy.

“She should have lived a normal life,” Puga said.

A jury agreed, awarding Naomi and her family $17.8 million dollars, primarily in economic damages.

A judge has since reduced the damages to $1 million, citing Colorado’s cap on malpractice cases, but Puga says the ruling is procedural and that state statute opens the door for economic damages to exceed the cap. He says this case a good example why, and he believes they will restore nearly all of the money the jury awarded.

“She’ll need 24 hour a day supervision and care for the rest of her life,” Puga said.

Naomi’s mother, Jennifer Pressey released a statement about the verdict.

“No family should have to go through what we’ve had to endure,” Jennifer Pressey said. “Words cannot express how grateful we are that Leventhal & Puga has made it possible for our daughter to receive the lifelong care she will need.”

But the family knows the fight still isn’t over. On Friday, Children’s Hospital Colorado released a statement saying, "We are sorry that the Pressey family suffered this unfortunate outcome seven years ago with their child. And while we will not comment on the specifics of the recent case, we respectfully believe there are grounds to appeal the outcome.”