Tragedy can come in many forms. However, the most piercing is when the victim is only a child. Nothing could illustrate this more than the death of Lucas Ortega. Born 12 weeks premature, he was definitely off to a challenging start. Despite this, he was improving and doctors had told the parents, Amilkar and Kori Ortega, that Lucas would be able to come home soon.
Unfortunately, Lucas contracted necrotizing enterocolitis, a disease sometimes caused by a bacterial infection of the intestines. Lucas did not survive, and the parents have been grieving and trying to come to grips with the loss since his death in 2012.
The Ortegas attorney, Matthew Haberkorn, believes he has found some incriminating evidence showing that Lucas’ death could have been prevented. Haberkorn asserts that Lucas’ primary doctor, Frederick Murphy, and the Doctors Medical Center of Modesto where he was treated knew about the possibility of a salmonella outbreak on April 18. Salmonella could be the cause of necrotizing enterocolitis.
The baby’s stools began to change on April 20, but it was never checked for abnormalities. Lucas’ parents and 20 other families with infants being treated were not warned about the possible danger. Particularly damning is the fact that two other infants contracted salmonella shortly after Lucas’ death.
Amilkar and Kori are suing the medical center and Dr. Murphy for gross negligence, battery and fraud. As a judge has decided punitive damages can be considered, the couple is looking to get $50 million dollars in compensation.