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Published: Monday, April 23, 2012, 1:37 p.m.

Suspended Idaho midwives agree to $5M settlement

BOISE, Idaho -- Two midwives have agreed to a $5 million settlement with a couple who sued them for medical malpractice after their baby suffered permanent brain damage, an attorney said Monday.
Coleen Goodwin and her daughter, Jerusha Goodwin, reached the agreement to avoid a jury trial, said Eric Rossman, attorney for Adam and Victoria Nielson. The trial had been set to begin on Monday in Boise.
The Goodwins, who own a birthing center in Meridian, Idaho, had their licenses to practice midwifery suspended last month after three babies died. The cases that led to their suspensions were separate from the Nielson's claim.
The Nielsons said their daughter was born without oxygen at The Baby Place in June 2008, leading to permanent brain damage.
"If we had to go to jury trial today, I think a jury verdict would have reflected what they stipulated, if not more," Rossman said shortly after the agreement was reached.
The Goodwins' attorney, James F. Jacobson, didn't return a call seeking comment.
How much money will ever be paid is unclear; the Goodwins, like all other Idaho midwife practices, do not carry costly malpractice insurance and are planning to seek bankruptcy protection, Rossman said.
Their bankruptcy lawyer, Steve French, didn't return a call seeking comment, but the federal bankruptcy court records indicated that no case had been filed by Monday morning.
The Goodwins' licenses were suspended on March 23, after three babies whose mothers began to give birth at The Baby Place later died. Investigators said that in the case of a June 2011 death, Coleen Goodwin delayed paramedics from entering the patient's room for about four minutes.
The state board that governs their license found that she "failed to fully cooperate with paramedics. She had to be asked questions multiple times before responding and would not provide adequate information. Moreover, respondent initially failed to state why transport to the hospital was necessary."
Another death on Oct. 11, 2010, occurred on Jerusha Goodwin's watch after a student midwife improperly cut an infant's umbilical cord, the board also found. The third death was in August 2011, when Jerusha Goodwin waited 11 minutes to call paramedics -- even though the baby was born "limp, unresponsive and pale," had meconium staining around the mouth, and had a heart rate of just 80, according to investigators.
Investigators concluded allowing the Goodwins to keep practicing represented "an immediate and ongoing danger to the public health, safety and welfare."
A receptionist at The Baby Place said Monday that Coleen and Jerusha Goodwin weren't available for comment, but that the birthing center was holding office hours and providing birth services to mothers.
Story tags » TrialsHealth

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