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By THOMAS W. KRAUSE
The Tampa Tribune
TAMPA - A jury has awarded the Estrada family $21.1 million for a misdiagnosis of their first child, that led them to believe their second child would not be born with the same genetic disorder.
The family is now raising two children, who will never be able to communicate, have significant birth defects and will need constant care the rest of their lives.
The jury determined that a University of South Florida doctor was 90 percent at fault for the misdiagnosis and an Orlando doctor – not named in the suit – was 10 percent at fault.
Before the “wrongful birth” case went to the jury, the judge decided that the Estradas had put on enough evidence to prove that USF acted negligently, therefore the jury only had to determine how much it would cost to care for Caleb Estrada, 2, for the rest of his life and how much his parents deserved in pain and suffering.
An attorney for USF quoted experts suggesting it would cost about $8.25 million to care for Caleb and the Estradas did not deserve pain and suffering damages.
The Estradas’ lawyer quoted experts who said pain and suffering, combined with life care for Caleb, could top $45 million.
Because USF is a government agency, the most they will have to pay would be $200,000 of the $21.1 million. The Estradas, by law, must petition the legislature to be paid the remainder of the balance.
The Estradas’ lawyer said costs in the case so far have topped that $200,000 figure. Without the legislature’s help, the Estradas would see nothing.
“It is going to be a long road,” Amara Estrada said. “I’m glad this part is over.”
The USF doctor misdiagnosed a genetic syndrome suffered by their first child. A year and a half later, still with no diagnosis, he negligently advised the Estradas that had they had another child, the chances of birth defects would be the same as any other couple.
Had the first child been diagnosed correctly, a simple test of the pregnant Amara Estrada would have told them with 100 percent accuracy about Caleb’s condition. The couple said had they known, they would have terminated the pregnancy.