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Damages: One Family's Legal Struggles in the World of Medicine

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Donna Sabia went into labor anticipating the birth of twins. She had two days earlier been told that everything seemed fine. Yet when the babies were born, one was dead and the other barely alive. At the urging of a friend, the Sabias filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against Dr. Humes and Norwalk Hospital. Barry Werth takes us through the seven-year lawsuit, allowing us to see the legal strategy plotted by the Sabias' attorneys, Connecticut's premier medical malpractice law firm. He narrates a tale of doctor, ...
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Damages

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Overview

Donna Sabia went into labor anticipating the birth of twins. She had two days earlier been told that everything seemed fine. Yet when the babies were born, one was dead and the other barely alive. At the urging of a friend, the Sabias filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against Dr. Humes and Norwalk Hospital. Barry Werth takes us through the seven-year lawsuit, allowing us to see the legal strategy plotted by the Sabias' attorneys, Connecticut's premier medical malpractice law firm. He narrates a tale of doctor, midwife, hospital, and insurance carriers all angling to shift the blame elsewhere, and of rival attorneys searching for medical experts to help them wage battle. But Damages is also the immensely moving story of the Sabias, grief-stricken at first, them challenged daily by the extraordinary amount of care Little Tony required. He was unable to eat, talk, walk, or even sit, yet despite the enormous strain on their marriage and the staggering financial cost, they never considered putting him in a home. Nor are they the only victims. Dr. Humes is forced to struggle with the stain of the lawsuit and the financial and psychological burdens it brings. Meanwhile, the experts debate what happened and who, if anyone, is at fault. In the end, the question of fault recedes behind the shared interest of all parties in avoiding a trial. The Sabias seek financial relief and security for their son's uncertain future while the defendants wish to avoid the expense and uncertainty of a protracted litigation. The risk of losing pushes all sides closer together. More than a story of one couple's personal anguish and devotion to their damaged child, Damages is also a timely, thoughtful exploration of what happens when our legal and medical worlds collide.
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Editorial Reviews

Journal of the American Medical Association
This is a great book and not just for doctors and lawyers. Anyone who enjoyed Jonathan Harr's A Civil Action will enjoy Damages. I was left wondering what sort of system could be devised that would serve the needs of parents faced with catastrophic loss, prevent substandard care, and protect doctors who are unjustly sued.
New England Journal of Medicine
For readers steeped in the literature of medical malpractice, this excellent, well-written book takes a novel, insightful, and humane approach....Unlike so many works on the subject of medicine and the law, this book neither exalts nor demonizes the lawyers and physicians who were cast as opponents by circumstances and events.
Library Journal
Werth (The Billion Dollar Molecule, LJ 2/1/94) integrates the story of one family's travails after the birth of a profoundly disabled son with an unbiased view of medical and legal issues. Werth reviewed files and interviewed most of the people involved in the medical malpractice case brought by the parents of Tony John Sabio. This meticulous, even-handed approach results in a book that is both an engrossing look at the experiences of one family and a serious glimpse into the American medical malpractice industry. It also touches on the serious question of whether, given the competing interests involved, a medical malpractice suit can be an effective tool to discover the truth or achieve justice. This is the book that Jonathan Harr's A Civil Action (LJ 9/15/95) aspired to be but was not because Harr did not put that particular lawsuit into the larger context. Recommended for any library where medical and/or legal true stories are in demand.Suzanne Pierce Dyer, Alameda Cty. Law Lib., Oakland, Cal.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780684807690
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 2/10/1998
  • Pages: 374
  • Product dimensions: 6.45 (w) x 9.58 (h) x 1.19 (d)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2000

    A malpractice lawyer's perspective

    This book is fascinating and frustrating. It gives a very good insider's look at what I do -- which is sue doctors in big damages cases almost exactly like this one. It is fascinating because of the way the book successfully balances and tells the story from both sides. The description of the bargaining strategies of the two sides may seem looney to an outsider, but this is exactly how it goes. Years of delay with a sudden move to resolve the case on the eve of trial. The description of the role of expert witnesses is also on point. Frustrating is the way that some obvious points are unwittingly (deliberately for dramatic effect[?]) brushed aside. For instance, much is made of whether the 'deep pocket' hospital can be kept in the case. But with the hospital's nurses and midwives seeing mom in the clinic and handling the delivery and with violations of hospital protocols all around, what was ever the problem? And since when is an insurance company ever 'stuck' with an expert's opinion -- especially when it's the plaintiff's expert. Don't like an opinion? Get a new expert. All-in-all, however, a very informative book which will keep you going until the end.

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