Hospital staff neglects to consider child abuse when infant is brought to ER. $8.4M. Amador County.


Hospital's medical staff training on child abuse reporting laws at issue.

The Case

  • Case Name: Cree Miller v. Sutter Sacramento Sierra Region, et al.
  • Court and Case Number: Amador County Superior Court / 13-cv-8253
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Wednesday, October 18, 2017
  • Date Action was Filed: Monday, March 04, 2013
  • Type of Case: Medical Malpractice, Negligence
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. James Garbolino, Retired (Assigned)
  • Plaintiffs:
    Cree Miller, age 6.
  • Defendants:
    Sutter Sacramento Sierra Region (dba Sutter Amador Hospital)
    Trina Haymond, NP (nurse practitioner who saw infant in ER)
    Shawn Brady, MD (who saw infant in ER)
    Valley Emergency Physicians Medical Group, Inc. (master/employer of Brady & Haymond)
    Biological family members of infant who were defaulted (Andrea Soldano, Anthony Santana, Greg Palmer, Elysee Palmer)
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $8,400,000
  • Award as to each Defendant:

    For damages suffered up until January 28, 2011:

    Past non-economic loss: $400,000

    For damages suffered after January 28, 2011:

    Future economic loss: $4,100,000

    Past non-economic loss: $360,000

    Future non-economic loss: $3,540,000

    * * *

    All damages suffered before January 28, 2011 ($400,000), were assigned to defendants Andrea Soldano, Anthony Santana, Greg Palmer and Elysee Palmer, only.

    There were percentages of fault assigned by the jury to the following named defendants for damages suffered after January 28, 2011 ($8,000,000): 

    Defendant Doctor (Shawn Brady, M.D.): 10.5%

    Defendant Nurse Practitioner (Trina Haymond, N.P.): 10.5%

    Defendant Sutter Sacramento Sierra Region: 20%

    Defendant Valley Emergency Physicians Medical Group, Inc.: 9%

    Defendant Andrea Soldano: 12.5%

    Defendant Anthony Santana: 12.5%

    Defendant Greg Palmer: 12.5%

    Defendant Elysee Palmer: 12.5%

  • Economic Damages:


  • Non-Economic Damages:


  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 20 days.
  • Jury Deliberation Time: Approximately 12 hours over 3 days.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    The Keane Law Firm, P.C. by Christopher Keane, San Francisco.

    Cron, Israels & Stark by Ed Stark, Los Angeles.

    Young Ward & Lothert by Jennifer Lothert, Sonora.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Porter Scott, by Norm Prior, Sacramento. (For Sutter Sacramento Sierra Region.)

    Law Offices of Kevin M. Smith by Kevin Smith, Sausalito. (For defendants Haymond, Brady and Valley Emergency Medical Group, Inc.)

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Patirica Speck, NP, nurse practitioner, Birmingham, AL.

    Diana Faugno, RN, nursing, Palm Desert.

    Hugh West, M.D., emergency medicine, San Francisco.

    Michael Muhonen, M.D., pediatric neurosurgery, Orange.

    Ken Martin, M.D., pediatric radiology, Oakland.

    Joseph Capell, M.D., pediatric physical medicine and rehabilitation, Fresno.

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    Bernard Dannenberg, M.D., emergency medicine, Palo Alto.

    Michael Macquarrie, M.D., emergency medicine, Tahoe City, NV.

    Katherine Kelly, NP, nursing practices, Sacramento.

    William Hoddick, M.D., radiology, Walnut Creek.

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    Mark Lane, MSW, child protective services, San Diego.

    Carol Hyland, CLCP, life care planning, Lafayette.

    Erik Volk, MBA, economics, Walnut Creek.

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    Scott Kush, M.D., life expectancy, Palo Alto.

    Gary Seiser, JD, juvenile dependency law, San Diego.

    Gerald Udinsky, MBA, economics, Berkeley.

    Stacey Helvin, RN, life care planning,  Los Angeles.


Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    Seven-week-old Cree Miller (formerly Luciana Santana) was taken to Sutter Amador Hospital on 1/27/11 by biological parents and maternal grandmother with chief complaint of sudden onset of blood in his mouth, and fussiness. At the emergency department, he was seen by Sutter Amador personnel, and Valley Emergency Physicians Medical Group, Inc., Nurse Practitioner (Trina Haymond) and Shawn Brady, M.D. The chart reflects that there was no blood found in the mouth, but there was a nursing note of facial bruising which the teenage mother claimed was because the infant hit himself in the face with his hands.

    No report was made to child protective services. On 1/28/11, the infant was seen in the family practice clinic.  No record was made of any facial bruising. The family practice nurse practitioner did not note any facial bruising, and did not read the emergency room nursing notes which provided the history that the mother claimed facial bruising was due to the infant hitting himself with his hands. 

    On 2/16/11 plaintiff infant was again taken to the same emergency room with a spinal cord injury that has left him permanently paralyzed, and also with a broken clavicle, two broken ribs and extensive bruising over much of his body.

    Cree was removed from his teenage parents’ custody and placed in foster care after he was paralyzed, and was later adopted by his foster mother.  He is now six years old.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    Plaintiff contended that the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act (CANRA), PC 11166.5, required the hospital and emergency medical corporation to provide its employees with the child abuse reporting law and have them sign an acknowledgment that they knew they were mandated reporters. Further, that various persons were required to report pursuant to PCC 11166.  Further, that Haymond, Brady and another nurse practitioner were required to rule out child abuse (non-accidental trauma) as the cause of the infant's injuries, including by ordering a skeletal survey – which plaintiff contended would have revealed the fractured clavicle and 1 of 2 fractured ribs.

    Former CPS workers testified at trial that, if a report had been made to child protective services when the infant was first seen at seven weeks, Cree would have been taken into protective custody.


  • Defendant's Contentions:

    The healthcare defendants denied all allegations. The biological defendants were in default.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Fractured ribs, fractured clavicle, facial bruising, petechia, corneal abrasion, and paralysis (at T2). Plaintiff is paralyzed from his chest down, though he has use of his arms.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: $0
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: $4,193,305
  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: $0
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: $359,120

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff §998 Demand: $1,000,000 policy limits as to Haymond, $1,000,000 policy limits as to Brady.
  • Plaintiff Final Demand before Trial: $5,725,000
  • Plaintiff Demand during Trial: $1,000,000 as to Haymond, $1,000,000 as to Brady.
  • Defendant §998 Offer: Haymond and Brady offered waiver of costs; Sutter: $200,000
  • Defendant Final Offer before Trial: None.
  • Defendant Offer during Trial: None.