Crime & Justice

Man loses $19 million lawsuit against Childrens Hospital over son's surgery

In a $19 million lawsuit in which a man sued Childrens Hospital and two doctors over whether he gave consent for his infant son to undergo surgery, jurors found in favor of the hospital, it was reported today.

Nathan Rivas, who was born prematurely, underwent surgery in 2007 to repair a double hernia and was left brain-damaged. And while his Spanish-speaking father, Eduardo, denied giving consent for the surgery, lawyers for the hospital argued that it was given verbally, the Los Angeles Times reported.

"We take comfort in the validation from the jury that we obtained Mr. Rivas' consent to perform surgery on his son and that we did what was medically necessary for Nathan," Childrens Hospital spokesman Steve Rutledge said Tuesday at the conclusion of the two-week trial.

Superior Court Judge Luis Lavin ruled inadmissible a state report released last month by the California Department of Public Health that found the hospital could provide no record of Rivas giving consent.

Rivas' attorney, Nathaniel Friedman, said he wished he had been allowed to show jurors the report.

Nathan, now nearly 3 years old, is covered by Medi-Cal. The state has paid $913,000 for the boy's care and will probably pay thousands more in coming years, he said.

Rivas testified that nursing care for the boy costs about $1,100 per month.

Hospital officials argued that Nathan's problems owed to complications from being born about four month prematurely. His mother died of breast cancer shortly after his birth, leaving the decision for Nathan to undergo surgery up to his father.