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Personal Injury Verdicts & Awards

Baby Death Settlement to be Secret

>The Times Leader - Wilkes-Barre, PA

Aug. 11, 1999

Baby Death Settlement to be Secret

The Schukrafts have been awarded $6.7 million by jury in the death of their newborn. Tuesday deal concerns punitive damages.

Wyoming Valley Health Care System on Tuesday reached a settlement of punitive damages with the parents of a newborn who died because of the negligence of the medical staff at Nesbitt Memorial Hospital.

The amount of the settlement with Heidi and Scott Schukraft, Sr. was not revealed at the insistence of the health care system and insurance companies involved in the case, said Joseph Quinn, the couple's attorney.

The settlement is in addition to a $6.7 million verdict the couple won after a two-week medical malpractice trial that ended July 22. A jury found Dr. Mark Polin and other employees of the healthcare system were negligent for failing to react to a heart monitor that showed the Schukrafts' son, Scott, Jr., was being deprived of oxygen in the womb. The infant died shortly after birth Jan. 9, 1997.

The settlement was reached after a four-hour hearing with Joseph Musto, the special trial master who presided over the trial in Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas. Quinn had requested Musto's intervention after more than two weeks of negotiations failed to produce a settlement.

Quinn said the Schukraft's were "very satisfied" with the settlement. He said he wanted to reveal the amount, but he could not get the healthcare system to agree.

The Schukrafts were eligible for punitive damages because jurors found Polin and other hospital employees, including several nurses, acted with "reckless indifference" in their treatment of Baby Schukraft.

Polin admitted he was sleeping and failed to review fetal heart tracings that showed the infant was in danger. The doctor had claimed nurses failed to notify him that tracings showed there was a problem.

Quinn said the Schukrafts were relieved a settlement was reached, avoiding the need for a separate hearing at which a jury would have determined the amount of punitive damages.

"This allows us to conclude this, finally. There will be no further delays or appeals." Quinn said.

Joann Quiagliam, a spokeswoman for the healthcare system, confirmed a settlement had been reached and the terms would remain confidential.

The only other part of the Quiagliam's prepared statement contradicted media reports that a large settlement could negatively affect the healthcare system.

"Any speculation regarding any facilities or departments closing or any interruption of services previously reported by the media are completely erroneous," she said Tuesday night. "Everything will remain the same."

PLEASE NOTE: Every case is fact specific, and these results do not guaranty the same results will be obtained in a different case.

About HKQ Law

Hourigan, Kluger & Quinn is considered one of the top civil litigation and commercial law firms that has had the privilege of representing more families in the courtroom than any other NEPA firm. The attorneys at HKQ Law have been honored as Super Lawyers, Best Lawyers, Best Law Firms by US News and World Report, and have received the AV Preeminent Rating by Martindale-Hubbel. HKQ Law was recently recognized for one of the top 20 Verdicts in Pennsylvania.

The firm’s Personal Injury Team, led by Attorney Joe Quinn, Jr., has won some of the largest verdicts and settlements in the region's history. The Personal Injury Team focuses on a wide array of personal injury claims and civil litigation, including medical malpractice, auto and truck accidents, aviation accidents, unsafe vehicles, dangerous or defective products, workplace injuries (worker's compensation), construction site accidents, claim denials by insurance companies, dangerous drugs, defective children's products, nursing home abuse and neglect, and falls due to unsafe conditions (slip and fall).

Attorney Joseph A Quinn, Jr. is one of only 100 attorneys in the United States (and one of only three in Pennsylvania) honored with membership in the Inner Circle of Trial Advocates, and one of only 500 attorneys worldwide chosen to be a Fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers. He has been a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer every year since the program began and has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America every year since the publication was established in 1987. Best Lawyers also named him top personal injury attorney for Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley. In addition, Best Lawyers, in conjunction with U.S. News & World Report, has designated HKQ a Tier 1 Best Law Firm across multiple categories in Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley.

Since the inception of the firm, the Commercial / Corporate Team led by Attorney Allan Kluger has provided comprehensive, integrated legal services to many of Northeastern and Eastern Pennsylvania's largest corporations, businesses, banks, non-profits and institutions, handling matters involving labor and employment, wills, trusts and estate planning, estate administration, elder law, commercial transactions, residential and commercial real estate, zoning, land use and development, telecommunications, mediations and arbitrations, commercial litigation, title insurance, business planning and business succession, corporate/business structuring, employment discrimination law for employers, banking, creditor’s rights, finance, lender liability defense, covenants not to compete, construction law, mergers and acquisitions and other business matters.

Additional information can be found at or by calling (800) 760-1529.



As Hourigan, Kluger and Quinn addresses the concerns raised by COVID-19, the health and safety of our clients, employees and friends of the firm remain our top priority.

These are very difficult and scary times and we hope that you and your loved ones are safe and symptom free. We recognize that so many of you are understandably anxious about your health, the economic impact of this pandemic and all of the consequences of social isolation.

We also recognize that many of you are anxious about how the coronavirus is impacting the Court systems, our firm and your cases. Although all of our offices are closed, our firm has remained fully operational and we have initiated procedures that allow all of our attorneys and staff to work remotely from their homes. Each of us and our staff will respond to any emails and calls about your cases as quickly as possible.

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