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Retarded Girl Awarded $14 Million

Times Staff Writer

A mentally retarded 11-year-old girl won a $14-million medical malpractice suit against a Downey pediatrician Friday when a Norwalk Superior Court jury determined that the doctor failed to diagnose a hypothyroid condition at birth that could have been treated.

James and Vicki Liston of Incline Village in the Lake Tahoe area, formerly of Lynwood, filed suit five years ago against the physician and St. Francis Hospital of Lynwood and its laboratory on behalf of their daughter, Jamie.

The child, who has an IQ of only 69, will require lifelong supervision, probably in a sheltered setting. She now lives at home with her family--including a normal twin brother--and attends special education classes.

Jamie’s condition was not diagnosed until she was about 4 years old and noticeably slow in development, too late to be reversed with medication.

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The girl did not testify but was introduced to the jury once during the two-week trial.

The Listons’ attorney, Tom Girardi, said the amount sought by the family was the projected cost of lifetime care for Jamie.

Before the jury reached its decision, the hospital had settled out of court with the Listons for $900,000.

The pediatrician, Dr. Hamilton Sah of Downey, fought the suit. Reached at his office late Friday, Sah said he will appeal the verdict as “unjustified” and said he still believes that “I did the right thing.”

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He said it is standard practice for the hospital laboratory to inform the attending pediatrician of any abnormal results of tests routinely run on newborns, and that he never received such a report on the test, known as a T-4.

“It was their duty to inform me,” he said.

Sah’s attorney, Dennis Keenan, could not be reached for comment.


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