WESTMINSTER — A city man choked back tears on the witness stand yesterday after hewas shown a picture of his infant son who died shortly after birth at Carroll County General Hospital.
Robert Morris was the final witness on the seventh day of testimony in a Westminster pediatrician's appeal of a state malpractice board's ruling that he was negligent inthe death of baby Brett Morris.
The baby's father ended an emotion-filled afternoon, as family members took the stand to tell of the effect of the baby's death on hisparents.
The baby was born at Carroll County General at 10 a.m. Sept. 21, 1986. He weighed 8 pounds, 9 ounces, but had breathing problems.
The baby died 19 hours later, before either of his parents had a chance to hold him.
In July, a three-member Maryland Health Arbitration Board in Sykesville found that longtime Carroll pediatrician Dr. Karl Green was negligent in the baby's death. The board awardedthe Morrises $550,000 in damages.
Green is appealing the decisionin Carroll Circuit Court.
Morris told the jury of eight men and four women how happy he and his wife, Barbara, were when Brett was born. He said having the baby was especially exciting because they had been told they couldn't have more children.
"We already had a girl,so the fact that this was a boy made it pretty much perfect," he said.
He said he was concerned about the baby while he was in the nursery because it "seemed like he was shivering" and because Brett never cried out loud like the other babies.
The baby's father said a nurse told him Brett would be fine and just was tired from a stressfulbirth.
Morris remained calm during most of his testimony, but broke down when Baltimore attorney LaVonna D. Vice showed him a picture of Brett taken by the nurses.
He cried when he said Brett looked like him and his father.
Earlier in the afternoon, the baby's grandfather took the stand and sobbed as he told the jury about Barbara Morris' reaction to her baby's death.
Kenneth Richard White Sr. saidthat when he got to the hospital, his daughter "was completely out of control.
"Her emotions were just shot," said White. "She said the nurses just watched the baby strangle to death. She just kept saying it over and over."
The Morrises and their attorney contend that Green did not give the baby enough oxygen, that he misread a chest X-ray and that he wrongly allowed the baby to be fed formula.
A medical examiner's report said the baby died of pneumome
diastynum, a condition in which air collects outside the lungs, causing pressure.
Green and his attorney, Michael Baxter of Baltimore, dispute thatand claim the baby died of "persistent fetal circulation," an often-fatal condition in which the baby cannot adjust to breathing outside the womb.