Southeast Texas Record

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Baby Olivia trial: Texas med-mal cap cuts $10M verdict to $750K

By David Yates | Aug 22, 2016

Law money 06

BEAUMONT – Last week, a Jefferson County jury awarded the mother of Baby Olivia millions of dollars for her mental anguish and past and future loss of companionship.

However, Texas’ medical malpractice cap for non-economic damages is set at $250,000, reducing plaintiff Rachel Ann Melancon’s total award of $10 million on three claims of non-economic damages to $750,000.

The litigation was first brought by Trent Coats, the baby’s father, against Dr. George Backardjiev, the delivering physician, on Aug. 6, 2014.

A second amended petition, brought by Rachael Melancon, the baby’s mother, was filed in April, naming Backardjiev and the Medical Center of Southeast Texas as defendants.

The case was called up for trial Aug. 1 and ended on Aug. 16.

Jurors were asked to decide whether Backardjiev and medical center were negligent in the delivery of Baby Olivia Coats, whose skull was allegedly crushed by forceps.

The jury found both parties negligent, but assigned the vast majority of the blame (95 percent) to Backardjiev, according to the charge of the court.

Jurors awarded Melancon $3 million for her past loss of companionship, $3 million for her future loss and $4 million for her past mental anguish. No damages were awarded for her alleged future mental anguish.

All three awards were for non-economic damages.

Jurors also awarded Melancon $575 for funeral and burial expenses, according to the charge of the court.

The jury was further tasked to determine if the negligence of the defendants caused physical injury to Melancon, finding that Badkardjiev was negligent while the medical center did not physically injure her.

Jurors awarded her $100,000 for her past physical pain and another $100,000 for her past mental anguish.

Case background

According to the lawsuit, Melancon was admitted for delivery on Dec. 26, 2013. Baby Olivia was born two days later. During the delivery, Backardjiev repeatedly kept applying forceps, refusing to consent to a cesarean delivery until after his fourth attempt failed.

“After birth, it was determined that baby Olivia suffered intracranial ischemic injuries,” the suit states. “She was transferred to Houston to Memorial Hermann Children’s Hospital.”

Radiologic studies revealed a partial skull fracture and other severe injuries. She died Jan. 1, 2014 after being taken off life support.

The suit further accuses Backardjiev of using Pitocin during labor despite Olivia having an abnormal fetal heart rate.

Beaumont attorney Malachi Daws represents the plaintiffs.

Judge Gary Sanderson, 60th District Court, is presiding over the case.

Case No. B-195944

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