Ratzan Weissman & Bolt attorneys Kimberly Boldt, Mario Giommoni, Stuart Ratzan, and Stuart Weissman secured a $46.5 million verdict in 2017 on behalf of a family whose child suffered from Kernicterus, a rare kind of preventable brain damage that happens in newborns as they are left untreated for jaundice

Due to their close-proximity working with the families of children suffering from Kernicterus, RWB became even more involved in supporting the organization of Parents of Infants and Children with Kernicterus (PICK), a parent-led non-profit dedicated to the education and prevention of the condition.

In medical circles, kernicterus is known as a “never event”, meaning it should never happen. That’s because the condition is very easily preventable. About 60% percent of babies are born with jaundice, which results in a yellow tint in a child’s skin and the whites of their eyes. Usually, the condition resolves itself or can be treated by placing the baby under ultra-violet light.

Jane Doe had jaundice, but she was sent home. Without treatment, bilirubin continued to build in her bloodstream until it broke the barrier of her brain and stained the area that controls physical movements.

 

 

The verdict, believed to be the largest medical malpractice verdict in Arkansas history, was featured in "Texas Lawyer's 2021 Southwest Verdicts Hall of Fame" (excerpts below):

  • ALM: Reading through this case, I see there were three different firms working on it. Which firm initially received the case and how did the other two get involved? What role did each play in the trying of this case?
     
    • RWB: Ratzan Law Group, now known as Ratzan Weissman & Boldt, originated the case.  We brought in Jim Lyons as local counsel and Boldt Law Firm, now merged with us, as litigation support. 
       
  • ALM: Stories that deal with children or the elderly tend to tug at the hearts of jurists and our readers. Was there anything that kept you up at night with regards to this case?
     
    • RWB: Of course; [Jane Doe] needs around the clock care and assistance to live a meaningful and healthy life.  She is alert and conscious, but trapped in a body that doesn’t function.  It would have been tragic if she could not experience a fruitful, fulfilling, and meaningful life.  This case was make or break for her and her loving parents, so that kept us up every night.
        
  • ALM: What key bits of evidence or testimony led to this win? What lessons did you learn from trying this case that you still use in litigation?
      
    • RWB: One great lesson we learned was the ability to structure our cross examinations outside the box instead of the limited, more traditional approach of scouring past testimony and depositions and seeking to impeach the witnesses based only on that.  Also, we confronted the old school, provincial locality rule regarding the standard of care in Arkansas.  We turned it around and argued that the people of Arkansas are equally entitled to current, up-to-date medical treatment as anyone anywhere else, and this was compelling. 
       

“We are encouraged by the jury’s commitment to the patient safety rules for South Arkansas, and we are thrilled that the jury devoted itself to a verdict that would provide for Jane Doe, age 2 1/2, for the rest of her life. Newborn babies need and deserve competent medical care in all of the United States, whether it’s Ouachita County, AR, Union County, AR, Miami, FL or anywhere else", said Attorney Stuart Razan.

Read more about the medical malpractice case in Texas Lawyer's 2021 Top Verdicts Hall of Fame here.

Ratzan Weissman & Boldt have obtained more than $200 million in verdicts and settlements. Our firm is dedicated to honorable and unyielding representation of patients, consumers, and catastrophically injured individuals in state and federal courts. These cases are examples of the achievements of our firm’s attorneys. All are real cases. However, these examples should not be taken as a guarantee that the same results would be achieved in another case.