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Not one penny since $17 million jury verdict

(WOWT)
Published: Feb. 28, 2017 at 6:33 PM CST
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One of the largest malpractice verdicts in Nebraska history should provide an injured young girl with professional care for years to come. So why is her mother Doran Schmidt worried that her daughter's future needs are in jeopardy?

Simple functions for a four year old are major strides in Sage Schmidt's life.

"Her entire cerebral cord damaged during the injury," Schmidt said.

Doran said it happened while giving birth at the Bellevue Medical Center four years ago. After a malpractice trial, the jury awarded Sage $17 million. That was a year and a half ago but not a penny paid yet.

"They are appealing because there is a law that says no matter what happens to you, no matter what the malpractice was, you can only have this much," she said.

$1.75 million is the Nebraska malpractice cap.

"Not even close to enough for her," Doran said.

An argument Sage's attorney made against the appeal at a hearing before the Eighth Circuit in St. Louis. Sage's attorney Bob Peck said,"Brain damage so severe that she will never be able to help herself and need life-long support."

The hospital has an ally in the state which argues against tipping the cap. Bill Settles, the state's attorney on appeal said, "The jury does not have the power to award damages in excess of what the law allows."

For now Sage's therapy is paid mostly by taxpayers through medicaid and social security. As she grows more, she will be needed to buy wheelchairs, a van and handicap accessible home.

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals heard the case in mid January. A lawyer involved in the case says their ruling could take from two to four months.

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