Drake, Next Friend of K’jon Drake, minor, Kirsten v Henry Ford Health System

  • Court: Michigan State, Wayne County, Circuit Court
  • Case Number: 20-016361-NH
  • Filed: December 16, 2020
  • Judges: Charles Hegarty
  • Case Type: (NH) – Medical Malpractice
  • Cause: Medical Negligence

Parties Involved

Verdict Information

  • Verdict Date: March 28, 2024
  • Total Damages awarded to Plaintiff(s): $120,896,596.51
    • Past medical expenses: $517,791.08,
    • Future medical expenses: $100,907,021
    • Future economic damages: $11,762,257
    • Future non-economic damages: $6,216,931

 About the Medical Negligence Case


This is a catastrophic case of medical negligence and obstetrical malpractice centered on the negligent delay in delivering baby K’Jon Drake by the labor and delivery team at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, despite mounting evidence of intrapartum fetal distress. On June 24, 2010, Kirsten Drake presented to the hospital at 39 weeks pregnant with no documented issues. Initial fetal monitoring reassuringly showed K’Jon was adequately oxygenated in utero. However, ominous signs of fetal distress began emerging – the fetal heart rate monitoring strips displayed deceleration in K’Jon’s heart rate along with diminished variability, which are potential signs the fetus may be becoming hypoxic or acidotic.

At 9:52 pm, the attending obstetrician Dr. Hajjar recognized these “non-reassuring fetal heart tones” and called for an urgent cesarean delivery, as further delay could jeopardize the baby’s status. This decision aligned with the obstetrical standard of care to expeditiously deliver a fetus exhibiting signs of potential birth injury. Shockingly, despite the urgency recognized, there was an unjustifiable delay of over 2 hours and 19 minutes before K’Jon’s delivery – representing blatant obstetrical negligence by failing to promptly perform the emergency c-section.

During this period where every minute mattered, the nursing staff inexplicably stopped continuously monitoring the fetal heart rate for nearly an hour – another devastating act of medical negligence. The consequences of the negligent delay were tragic yet foreseeable – K’Jon was born in a profoundly asphyxiated state with critically abnormal umbilical cord blood gas values, reflecting severe metabolic acidosis and hypoxia.

This placed him at extraordinarily high risk for hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) and subsequent brain damage. Indeed, the lack of oxygen and blood flow to K’Jon’s brain during the substandard labor unleashed a devastating chain of events.


As a result of the asphyxial insult, K’Jon suffered life-threatening complications including meconium aspiration syndrome, where he aspirated fecal matter into his lungs. This neonatal emergency often occurs when a fetus gasps and inhales meconium in response to oxygen deprivation. K’Jon also developed persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN), a condition that impairs the transition to breathing after birth frequently seen with perinatal asphyxia.This catastrophic neurological injury has manifested as spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy. It also resulted in a chronic seizure disorder. Furthermore, it caused cortical visual impairment. Additionally, it led to other profound developmental disabilities.

Now a young child, K’Jon remains non-verbal, requires a wheelchair and leg braces for mobility, and is entirely dependent on his mother and grandmother to meet all his basic needs. He faces a lifetime of interrupted cognitive development. He also deals with physical disabilities. Moreover, he copes with medical complexities. Additionally, he requires the perpetual need for around-the-clock care and supervision.. The severe hypoxic ischemic insult has robbed K’Jon of any prospect for an independent, disability-free future.


The plaintiffs seek accountability and compensation reflective of K’Jon’s catastrophic injuries, his ongoing medical needs, the suffering and diminished quality of life he has already painfully endured and will continue to endure. They allege that fair damages are warranted to address the permanent impact this negligent substandard obstetrical care has had in irreparably derailing the future K’Jon should have had – a future stripped away by blunders constituting medical malpractice.

Jury Verdict

The jury unanimously concluded that Dr. Leila Hajjar-Nolan breached the expected standard of practice for an obstetrician. They also found that one or more of the named nurses breached the standard of care expected of registered nurses. Specifically, Nurse Sara (Wilder) Sorbo, Nurse Laura Baker-Fraser, Nurse Cynthia Infante, and Nurse Holly (Biland) Drake were identified as involved in the breach. Total damages awarded amounted to $120,896,596.51, reflecting a thorough assessment of both past and future economic losses. Past medical expenses totaled $517,791.08, with a significant portion of $242,596.43 already covered by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, highlighting the plaintiff’s financial burden.

The jury recognized the ongoing and future economic impact on K’Jon Drake’s life. They awarded substantial sums for future medical expenses, totaling $100,907,021, and loss of wage earning capacity, amounting to $11,762,257. Additionally, they awarded future non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, and denial of social pleasures and enjoyments, totaling $6,216,931.

Court Documents: Available upon Request