Jury Awards Damages in Death of Twin Toddlers

On April 21, 2006, two parents woke up to a nightmare that hasn't ended -- Shannon and Jenny Legge found one of their three-year-old twin boys, A.J., lifeless and unresponsive in the middle of the night. Both of the twins, A.J. and Joshua, had a tonsillectomy earlier in the day and were released from the hospital.

Neither emergency responders nor hospital doctors were able to revive A.J. and he was eventually pronounced dead. But the two grieving parents were unable to process their pain -- as they were being escorted home, the emergency crew told the parents that the neighbor watching Joshua at home had called 911 to report that he was not breathing at their home.

Similar to A.J., doctors and emergency responders were unable to revive Joshua. Both boys had died within hours of their routine surgery on April 21, 2006.

Ohio Medical Malpractice and Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Shannon said during the trial that they are unable to get over their pain from that tragic, horrific night. "All we have in our heads, in our hearts, is the pain of that night...so we can't remember being happy," Shannon said. Shannon and Jenny filed suit against the doctor who performed the tonsillectomies, arguing that the doctor's lack of care contributed to the death of their two sons.

The twin boys' doctor argued that while the mother told the doctor about the boys' breathing problems, that it was not out of the ordinary to send the boys home after their routine surgery.

The jury disagreed. The jury listened to testimony that doctors often require children to stay in the hospital for observation, even for routine surgeries. In the case of the twin boys, their doctor sent the boys home after their tonsillectomies. They spent less than five hours at Memorial Hospital of Union County before they were discharged.

The jury was likely persuaded by the family's argument that had the doctor followed post-surgery protocol and kept the two three-year-old boys in the hospital, their breathing condition may have been detected before it was too late. While the boys' cause of death was listed as cerebral edema, or fluid on the brain, both boys stopped breathing after falling asleep just hours after their surgery.

In awarding the family $2 million dollars for the medical malpractice and wrongful death suit, the jury discarded the doctors theory that while it was a tragic circumstance, nothing could have been done to save the boys. The jury also ignored the doctor's argument that the boys had a pre-existing condition that prevented them from processing pain medication, which stopped their breathing.

Instead, the jury found that the doctor engaged in medical malpractice, meaning that the doctor was negligent in his care of the twin boys and at-fault in the death of the boys.

Related Resource: The Columbus Dispatch "Family Can't Fathom Loss of Their Twins"