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Couple Settles Wrongful Death Suit With NAS Jax

Posted on July 5, 2008

A couple who filed a $15 million lawsuit against the government for the wrongful death of their 15-month-old son, have settled their lawsuit for $900,000.

Thomas and Jessica Hugaboom of Virginia reached the out-of-court agreement last week.

In 2004, their 7-month-old son, Michael, died of undiagnosed meningitis after three trips and three calls to the emergency room while his father was stationed at Jacksonville Naval Air Station.

In their lawsuit, the couple says they brought Michael to the emergency room in February 2004 because of a high fever. As the fever got worse over the next three days, they made two more trips to the ER each time being told the child had chicken pox.

They didn’;t see the same doctor on any of the visits.

The couple was told the baby would be fine and that the Hugabooms should not return because the baby was contagious.

No blood work or urine samples were done. If they had been, doctors might have found meningitis and an entire body-wide bacterial infection. Within a week the baby was dead.  

The  $15 million lawsuit was filed in federal court. 

The couples’; attorney says they didn’;t want a trial.

NAS Jax has had a history of problems. The Hugabooms’; case follows a $60 million negligence award to the parents of another baby boy born at NAS Jax with severe brain damage.

In August 2005, a judge awarded a blind Jacksonville boy and his parents $5.9 million after finding that his blindness was caused by the hospitals negligence in the emergency room.

In 2003, a woman claimed she was given an unnecessary hysterectomy after a misdiagnosis.  And a Jacksonville woman died of a heart attack there after undergoing elective hip surgery done without a cardiac evaluation. 

Military doctors cannot be sued for malpractice.  The patient who is injured has to sue the federal government.  And it’;s difficult for the state medical board to get involved if the military doesn’;t report the bad doctors.

NAS Jax is the fourth- largest medical hospital in the Navy and serves roughly 200,000 service men and women and their eligible beneficiaries.  

The settlement allows the family to move on with their lives and avoids a lengthy trial.  #