About 13 years ago, little Emily Armstrong was a victim of medical malpractice. In the womb she was a healthy baby, but when former doctor, James A. Barnes Jr. delivered the baby by cesarean section, Emily suffered severe injuries. She is now deaf, blind, and paralyzed, having been diagnosed with cerebral palsy at birth. The Armstrongs sued the doctor and the hospital as Dr. Barnes had a history of drug abuse, though he denied using drugs when the young girl was born. The doctor was convicted, and the Armstrongs received $2.8 million for their losses.
After they won, the state decided that since Emily had been a Medicaid recipient, that they wanted a portion of the settlement. North Carolina officials asked for $9,333,333.33 from the Armstrongs, which is one-third of the total fund they received. They can do this under a state law (NC Gen Stat § 108A‑57), that says North Carolina can claim one-third of the total amount. This statute conflicts with a Supreme Court decision, Arkansas Department of Health and Human Services, et al. v Ahblorn that ruled a Medicaid recipient could keep the majority the funds she had received as a settlement.
The Supreme Court is now hearing arguments from both the state and Emily to determine if the state has a right to any of her money. As of now, the court seems to be split in their leanings. Justice Sotomayor seemed incredulous at the arbitrary number the state had picked, one-third. Justices Scalia and Roberts, on the other hand, seemed to think that to have individual hearings to assess the state's amount of recovery for each case would be a cumbersome process.
If you have been a victim of medical malpractice and are seeking reparations, then you need to enlist the help of an East Hartford personal injury attorney from David A. Zipfel & Associates, LLC. Our experienced team of legal professionals can defend your rights against the seemingly overwhelming hospital defense team. We want to get you the maximum amount of compensation that you deserve, so contact us today for free consultation.