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Malpractice case settled for $6 million

Malpractice case settled for $6 million


A Juneau County Circuit Court judge last week approved a $6 million settlement in a medical malpractice case that had been scheduled for trial this month.

According to court documents, the civil suit filed in January 2006 by Necedah residents Peter and Heather Waltemath alleged that their son, Mason, suffered severe and permanent injuries as a result of negligence during labor and delivery.

Mason Waltemath was born Feb. 26, 2005 at Hess Memorial Hospital in Mauston.

"It is alleged that Mason Waltemath, who suffered severe neurological injuries during the labor and delivery process has, as a consequence, severe quadriplegic cerebral palsy and as such, is totally dependent on others for all aspects of daily living and will be for his entire life," the settlement document claimed.

The suit against Mile Bluff Clinic physician June Lewandowski, who was Heather Waltemath's primary doctor, the hospital and the clinic sought unspecified damages.

Lewandowski, the hospital and the clinic denied all claims against them.

Carol Fronk, Mile Bluff Clinic administrator and chief financial officer, and James O'Keefe, president and CEO of Hess Memorial Hospital, both declined to comment on the settlement Tuesday.

In approving the negotiated settlement Nov. 10, Judge Paul Curran said the settlement contained no admission of wrongdoing or error by caregivers.

The foot-high case file contains depositions and professional opinions from medical experts from Yale University, the University of Chicago and others that support both sides in the case.

According to information from the Mayo Clinic, cerebral palsy is an umbrella term for a group of disorders caused by abnormal brain development in the womb or by injuries to the brain in the first years of life. People with cerebral palsy can have mild to severe physical disabilities.

The settlement approved by Curran last week deviated from the terms negotiated by the plaintiffs and defendants in one regard. Jeffrey Goldberg, the Waltemath's Chicago attorney, had sought a fee of $2 million from the $6 million settlement. But Curran reduced Goldberg's fee to $1,666,666.

Goldberg declined to comment on the settlement Tuesday and said that his clients' interests would not be served by media attention.

The portion of the settlement money not designated to pay fees or other costs, more than $4 million, will be held in a trust for the care of Mason Waltemath, according to the settlement document.

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