City / County Digest

CITY / COUNTY DIGEST

May 17, 2007

Obstetrician found liable for malpractice

A Baltimore obstetrician and former city councilman was found liable for medical malpractice yesterday, and ordered by a city jury to pay $8.1 million to the parents of a baby boy he delivered in 2003.

The jury found that Dr. Emerson R. Julian Jr., an obstetrician in private practice, was responsible for the brain damage suffered by infant Caleb Spence during a difficult delivery at Mercy Medical Center. But the damages would be limited to just over $2.1 million under Maryland law putting a cap on awards for pain and suffering.

Caleb died about a year later from a respiratory illness related to his permanent brain damage, according to the case presented by the Spence family's attorney, Barry L. Steelman.

"Obviously, there's going to be a world of pain and memories that we will carry with us," said the baby's father, Christopher Spence, a chemist who moved from Govans to Long Island, N.Y., after the birth.

Julian's attorney said his client will appeal. "The jury was obviously consumed by emotion," lawyer Ronald Shaw said. "In my view, they didn't give us a fair and objective assessment."

Julian, now of Owings Mills, was appointed to the City Council in 1978, completing the term of his father, Emerson R. Julian Sr., who died that year. He did not seek election in 1979.

Mercy - where Julian has medical privileges - agreed to a confidential out-of-court settlement with the Spence family last year, Steelman said.

During the delivery, Caleb's shoulders became stuck in his mother's birth canal, a condition known as shoulder dystocia. In such circumstances, the baby's breathing may be obstructed, so doctors use various techniques to extract the infant as quickly as possible.

The Spence family claimed that Julian used an extraction technique known to be dangerous, an allegation that the obstetrician disputes.

Gadi Dechter

Carroll County

: Taneytown

Man pleads guilty in extortion case

A Taneytown man, ordered to pay restitution in a contractor fraud case, pleaded guilty this week to trying to extort the money from a bank official.

Gary Wayne Smith, 36, could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty Tuesday to bank extortion in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, federal prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said Smith had been convicted in Montgomery County of failing to fulfill a fencing contract and was ordered to pay restitution of $17,000, beginning with a payment in February.

Faced with financial difficulties and unable to make the payment, Smith sent a letter in February to the manager of the Middletown Valley Bank in Middletown demanding $60,000. In the letter, he threatened to harm the manager's family if the money was not paid, according to court documents.

The manager contacted federal authorities. His children were taken out of school and the family was placed under federal protection, the documents said. A few days later, FBI agents left a bag of money at a designated drop site where Smith and an accomplice were arrested.

Arthur Wilson, 23, of Taneytown pleaded guilty Monday to being an accessory after the fact and faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, prosecutors said. Wilson's sentencing was scheduled for July 24. Smith will be sentenced Oct. 4.

Associated Press

Baltimore

: Citywide

Put yard waste out for 2nd pickup day

The Baltimore Department of Public Works is urging city residents to dispose of grass clippings, leaves and branches on the second day of their weekly trash pickup. This will help more evenly distribute the amount of trash that is picked up, officials say.

Kurt L. Kocher, a public works spokesman, said that many residents put yard waste out with their trash on days following the weekend.

"City crews pick up considerable more material than they pick up on the second collection day (Thursday, Friday or Saturday)," the statement says. "This is inefficient and slows down the collection times."

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