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Judge Awards Family Of Brain-Damaged Boy $9.4 Million

Tripler Army Hospital Found Negligent In Infant’s Treatment

POSTED: 2:58 pm HST August 16, 2007
UPDATED: 8:15 am HST August 17, 2007

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HONOLULU A federal judge on Thursday awarded $9.4 million to the family of a boy who suffered massive brain damage while being treated at Tripler Army Hospital.

Parker Kohl’s family must provide round-the-clock care for the boy, who is blind.

Parker was born in December 2003 to Sgt. Darius and Karen Kohl. He was born with a congenital heart condition and developed a respiratory infection.

He was hospitalized at Tripler in May 2004 and put on a breathing tube. Doctors eventually weaned Parker from the tube, but when his condition then worsened, doctors failed to reinsert the tube even after a nurse warned them that Kohl was going dramatically down hill, the Kohls’ attorney said.

“And for whatever ever reason, nobody reacted to it. So, he continued downhill until he stopped breathing, and it is remarkable they were able to revive him,” the Kohls’ attorney, Rick Fried, said.

Judge David Ezra ruled that Tripler was negligent.

“The evidence is quite clear that had he gone back on, been reintubated, he would have survived and been OK,” Ezra said.

Parker was left with massive brain damage. His IQ is now less than 30. He smiles but he is unable to walk or talk. His feeding tubes must be monitored constantly. His mother Karen said she has gained 100 pounds from the stress.

In an unusual move, Ezra went to Seattle to determine the level of care Kohl will need for the rest of his life.

The judge found Parker’s brain damage to be irreversible. He will need care for as long as he lives. That is not expected to be beyond the age of 30, according to the family.

In a written response to the Parker Kohl case, Tripler said it respects the decision made by the federal court.

“We are a premier military health and education center that strives to provide safe, high quality care and service to all beneficiaries we serve,” Tripler said in its statement.

In October, Ezra awarded another family represented by Fried more than $16 million. Dwight and Shalay Peterson sued Tripler after medical personnel mistakenly gave their newborn son carbon dioxide instead of oxygen.

The baby, Islam, who they call “Izzy,” was left in a persistent vegetative state. He is being cared for at a military facility in San Antonio.

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