Hopkins weighs appeal of verdict in girl's bruising

Jury awarded $250,000 over inappropriate restraint

February 10, 2010|By Nick Madigan | nick.madigan@baltsun.com

Officials at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center are considering whether to appeal a $250,000 verdict by a Baltimore Circuit Court jury that found the hospital's staff inappropriately restrained a disabled girl, causing extensive bruising.

The girl, Brooke Greenberg, one of four sisters in a Reisterstown family, is 17 years old but is the size of a toddler, the result of a rare genetic disorder. She appears not to have aged since infancy and suffers from multiple medical problems, including cerebral palsy, neurologic and cognitive disorders, epilepsy and gastrointestinal disorders.

Greenberg, whose condition has been chronicled by NBC's "Dateline" and other national media outlets, is frail and unable to communicate, according to the lawsuit, which centers on an overnight stay at Hopkins on March 12, 2007, one of the many times she had been treated there over the years. When her father, Howard Greenberg, picked her up the next morning, "he noticed a large lump on her forehead," the suit said.

Later, at home, as she was being undressed for a bath, the suit said, it became apparent that Greenberg had "numerous bruises" on her "four extremities."

Robert J. Weltchek, the Greenberg family's attorney, said in a telephone interview that the hospital staff "never came up with an explanation" for the bruises other than "that she had some disorder that caused spontaneous bruising, but the jury didn't buy it."

The jury concluded Friday that Greenberg was restrained inappropriately and that the hospital was responsible for the bruises.

Gary M. Stephenson, a hospital spokesman, said the Greenbergs' allegations were baseless. "We remain confident that the care this child received at Hopkins was compassionate, caring and appropriate," he said. The hospital reported the suspicious bruising to Baltimore's Child Protective Services, Stephenson said.

Hopkins' investigation found "no evidence of abuse," Stephenson said, adding that the hospital "has cared compassionately" for Greenberg over the years and that her condition is "both complex and heartbreaking."

But the girl's father said he was offended by the staff's "arrogance that they're from Hopkins and they don't make mistakes."

"I didn't want to sue the hospital," he said. "I just wanted answers."

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