U sued for alleged malpractice

Regents and U physicians have denied the allegations.

by Meghan Holden

The University of Minnesota is being sued for alleged medical malpractice causing a birth-related injury in a patient — an uncommon case for the University.

The University’s Board of Regents, University of Minnesota Physicians, HealthEast Care System and St. Joseph’s Hospital are all being sued for alleged negligence in the care of a pregnant woman and her unborn child. Each has denied all allegations against them.

On March 29, 2011, then 18-year-old Niesha Jones went to St. Joseph’s Hospital to have her baby, according to the complaint. Three days later, her son was delivered with the assistance of University physicians, the complaint stated.

Jones’ son, Lavelle Brown, allegedly sustained permanent mental and physical injuries — including disfigurement and disability — during the delivery. According to the complaint, complications at birth included lack of oxygen to the brain, seizures and potential arm weakness or paralysis, among others.

Jones is suing on behalf of her now two-year-old son, claiming the defendants were negligent in the care of her and her child.

Jones is asking for compensation totaling more than $200,000 to account for medical expenses allegedly stemming from lasting birth complications, according to the complaint.

General Counsel William Donohue said the University is sued “occasionally” for malpractice, but University of Minnesota Physicians attorney David Alsop said this is the first case he’s seen involving a birth injury.

Donohue met with the Board of Regents Litigation Review Committee Tuesday afternoon to discuss the case. The Board of Regents is typically also sued in cases like this because of its role overseeing the University.

A settlement conference is scheduled for Sept. 27 and a jury trial is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 14.

Of more than 50 medical malpractice cases since 2005, the University has settled 18, and none have gone to trial. Only four University malpractice cases have ever gone to trial, and the jury sided with the University and its doctors in each of them.

Board of Regents Chair Richard Beeson declined to comment on the case.