As a result of a Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision, a jury will now hear a major Ross Feller Casey medical negligence lawsuit against doctors who failed to report suspected abuse to an infant who later sustained catastrophic injuries at the hands of his father.
The precedent-setting case litigated by Ross Feller Casey founding partner Joel Feller involves doctors who, over several months, suspected an infant was being abused, but never alerted authorities. The child was later discovered in his crib with cranial hemorrhaging as a result of shaking by his father. The child now suffers from irreversible brain damage. His father was later convicted of felony child abuse.
At issue in the case is whether the state’s Child Protective Services Law allows for such civil cases against doctors because the statute is silent on the issue.
Earlier, the state Superior Court reversed a Lancaster County judge's ruling. The appellate court found that Ross Feller Casey successfully presented a prima facie case that the doctors increased the risk of harm to the child by not reporting the suspected abuse. Although the General Assembly didn’t specifically address civil remedies in the law, lawmakers never intended to grant immunity to doctors in such cases, the appellate court ruled.
The state Supreme Court let stand that appellate ruling on March 24, positioning the case for trial.
Feller told The Legal Intelligencer newspaper that he was pleased that the child will now “have his day in court.”
Added Feller, “By ignoring the signs of abuse for over three months, these pediatric physicians increased the risk of precisely the type of catastrophic and irreversible brain injury that this infant ultimately suffered.”