California IN BRIEF : MARTINEZ : Woman, Son Win Malpractice Award

From Times staff and Wire reports

A $6.5-million malpractice award to a mother and her retarded son may be the largest in Contra Costa County, according to an attorney in the case. A Superior Court jury awarded $5 million for the care of 21-month-old Ryan Thompson, plus $1.1 million to compensate for his lost earning potential. The jury also awarded Ryan the maximum $250,000 in damages for pain and suffering and his mother, Heather Meyer of Antioch, $200,000 for her pain and suffering. Defendants included Delta Memorial Hospital in Antioch and Dr. J. Gene Zimmerman. The mother blamed the child's condition on a lack of oxygen to his brain during delivery. She was represented by attorney Bruce Fagel, who estimated that, with the establishment of an income-earning annuity, more than $200 million could be paid out over Ryan's lifetime if he lives to be 70. However, one expert testified at the trial that Ryan, who also has cerebral palsy, probably will not live past 12.

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