Open Letter To Governor Cuomo About Your Budget


As part of Governor Cuomo’s daring budget to cut the costs of Medicaid and reduce the budget deficit, Governor Cuomo took strong steps to deprive the victims of medical malpractice of their rights.

Governor Cuomo’s Proposal #131 included two laws to deprive the most severely disabled victims of medical malpractice of their rights: #1: a cap of $250,000 on non-economic damages and #2: a neurologically impaired infants compensation fund. The neurologically impaired infant’s trust fund will ration medical care for neurologically damaged infants according to rules established by Medicaid and payments for medical care of such infants will only occur if the trust fund is adequately funded.

In 1999, I represented the mother of a newborn who suffered spastic quadriplegia (paralysis of all four extremities) and severe brain damage as a result of the prolonged lack of oxygen in the hours just before birth. As a result of a 8 hour delay in delivering the baby, Baby T was born with severe brain damage and paralysis. Baby T will never walk, speak or understand her mother, siblings or teachers. Baby T is a blessing to our world, but her physical and mental disabilities were completely avoidable.

An independent investigation of Baby T’s delivery by the NYS Department of Health found that the obstetrician at the hospital was grossly negligent in failing to recognize the signs of fetal distress and deliver the baby. The obstetrician’s medical license in New York was permanently revoked, but that accomplished little for Baby T.

Baby T faces a lifetime in a wheelchair while watching her five siblings go to school dances, play basketball, marry and get their first jobs. Governor Cuomo wants you, the public, to believe that $250,000 in non-economic damages (known as pain and suffering) is sufficient to fair compensate Baby T for her brain damage and paralysis and that the neurologically impaired infant’s trust fund should pay for her medical expenses along Medicaid reimbursement rules. A government bureaucrat will determine what services, if any, Baby T should get.

The argument of Governor Cuomo is that Baby T’s economic damages, such as medical expenses, will be fully compensated and that non-economic damages accomplish little. Tell this to Baby T–better yet, since Baby T can’t understand a word of this, tell this to her mother’s face.

Governor Cuomo should look Baby T’s mother in the face, with Baby T next to her in a wheelchair, while telling them that Baby T’s severe physical and mental disabilities are worth a grand total of $250,000 for a lifetime of suffering. While highly paid insurance executives and hospital administrators can make $250,000 in a good month, seventy plus years of brain damage and paralysis for Baby T is worth $250,000 at least in the estimation of our Governor.

As the Attorney General for New York, Governor Cuomo promoted himself as the champion of the little guy, much like his father had done while governor of our State. By almost all accounts, Governor Cuomo excelled as Attorney General. This begs the question–what happened?