KAYLA BUTTS, Individually and on behalf of her daughter A.F., a minor, Plaintiff - Appellee,
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant-Appellant, and BERKELEY MEDICAL CENTER; WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL, INC.; SHENANDOAH WOMEN'S HEALTH CENTER; SHENANDOAH COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTER; SHENANDOAH MIDWIVES; AVINASH PUROHIT, M.D.; TRACY SWALM, CNM; SARA SPURGEON, R.N.; SHELLY PALKOVIC, R.N.; REBECCA PFENDER, CNM; SARAH HARDY, M.D.; SONYA JUSTICE, R.N., Defendants.
Argued: May 7, 2019
from the United States District Court for the Northern
District of West Virginia, at Martinsburg. Gina M. Groh,
Chief District Judge. (3:16-cv-00053-GMG-MJA)
Marc Salzman, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE,
Washington, D.C., for Appellant.
John Nace, PAULSON & NACE, PLLC, Washington, D.C., for
H. Hunt, Assistant Attorney General, Mark B. Stern, Civil
Division, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, Washington,
D.C.; William J. Powell, United States Attorney, OFFICE OF
THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Wheeling, West Virginia, for
Matthew A. Nace, PAULSON & NACE, PLLC, Washington, D.C.;
D. Michael Burke, BURKE, SCHULTZ, HARMAN & JENKINSON,
Martinsburg, West Virginia, for Appellee.
HARRIS, RICHARDSON and QUATTLEBAUM, Circuit Judges.
Quattlebaum, Circuit Judge
case arises from a tragic set of events involving A.F., a
baby born with severe respiratory problems who developed
permanent brain damage. Kayla Butts ("Butts"),
A.F.'s mother, brought this action claiming A.F.'s
brain damage was caused by the medical malpractice of Dr.
Sarah Hardy. More specifically, Butts contends that Dr. Hardy
should have transferred A.F. from the hospital where A.F. was
born to a hospital with a neonatal intensive care unit
("NICU") that could have provided the care A.F.
needed in the hours after her birth. After a bench trial, the
district court agreed and awarded Butts over seven million
dollars in damages. On appeal, we consider whether Butts
presented sufficient evidence to establish that Dr. Hardy
violated the applicable standard of care. Because the
district court's finding on this issue was clearly
erroneous, we reverse the district court's order and
vacate the judgment against Dr. Hardy.
delivered A.F. at Berkeley Medical Center
("Berkeley") in Martinsburg, West Virginia.
Berkeley did not have a NICU, so infants who required
additional support were cared for in Berkeley's "Max
Care Nursery." The Max Care Nursery offered specialized
care to newborn infants, including an oxygen-delivery system
and equipment to provide intubation. However, the Max Care
Nursery did not have all the equipment found in a NICU,
including a breathing device known as a continuous positive
airway pressure ("CPAP") machine. Infants delivered
at Berkeley who needed specialized care Berkeley could not
provide were often transported to the NICU at Winchester
Medical Center ("Winchester") in Virginia.
time of these events, Berkeley was working to establish a
NICU of its own. To that end, Berkeley hired Dr. Avinash
Purohit, a board-certified neonatologist, to establish and
manage a NICU. But Dr. Purohit arrived at Berkeley only a ...