Four years ago, a woman was giving birth to her son in Exempla Good Samaritan Medical Center in Colorado when he went into fetal distress. Complications during delivery, including lack of oxygen in the womb, resulted in the baby’s not breathing or having a heart rate for 13 minutes. 

Although the boy did live, he was left with debilitating permanent brain damage, resulting in the need for constant medical care for the rest of his life. The woman and her husband filed a malpractice lawsuit against the medical center, claiming that the hospital staff did not act quickly enough when they realized that the infant was being deprived of oxygen.

After a four-week trial, a jury sided with the defendant hospital and the boy’s parents lost their case. The final blow to the family, however, occurred after the law firm representing the medical center filed papers seeking to recover legal fees and other costs from the parents. 

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A judge signed off on the “bill of costs,” ordering the family to pay a total of $340,000, which included legal fees, dinners, and room service fees for attorneys and witnesses, transportation expenses (including airfare for a witness as well as car service), and coffee, snacks and other food items for witnesses and defendants. The family has said that it expects to have to file for bankruptcy.