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$40 million lawsuit nets family $750K after mold found in Seattle Children's operating rooms

The hospital must pay out $250,000 each to three family members after mold was found in one of its operating rooms.

SEATTLE — Seattle Children's was ordered to pay out $750,000 to a family impacted after mold was found in one of the hospital's operating rooms, in a Wednesday verdict in a lawsuit filed by the family. 

Doctors from the University of Washington who cared for the victim were found not guilty of malpractice as part of the verdict. Seattle Children's admitted in closing arguments last week that its own negligence led to the mold infection in the operating room in question.

"We are disappointed," attorney Ed Moore told KING 5 after the verdict. "We think the jury didn't get the case right. We think the doctors made a mistake that put H.K. at risk and his aneurysm ruptured and it's going to affect him for the rest of his life."

H.K., along with his mother and father, were each awarded $250,000 in Wednesday's verdict.

The lawsuit was filed by the family of a boy identified in court papers as H.K. He was 2 years old when he suffered a brain aneurysm that was treated at Seattle Children’s.

The surgical team removed a flap of skull bone from the boy’s head to access his brain. After the procedure, the skull bone tested positive for aspergillus – a mold that has been a problem in the hospital’s operating rooms.  

Seven patients have died from hospital-acquired mold infections since 2001 and more than a dozen others have been injured.

But lawyers said the hospital should not be liable for damages because the doctors did not reattach the infected skull section and H.K. was never harmed.

“He did not have any infection," said Jake Winfrey, Seattle Children’s lawyer. "Whether he was exposed or not there was no harm done to (H.K.). There was no presence of aspergillus in his body."

The hospital and the University of Washington, whose doctors treated H.K., said the boy was disabled by a rare aneurysm and not because of the care by the treatment team.

H.K.’s lawyers said the plastic skull piece the doctors used to replace the boy’s skull bone led to complications that caused his disability.

The family initially sought more than $40 million in the suit.

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