Maxim Healthcare, family settle in mediation

Steve Gonzalez Oct. 21, 2008, 9:15am

The estate of Madison Falgout has reached a settlement agreement with Maxim Healthcare Services and Kristina Helms after four and a half hours of mediation.

According to the mediator's report filed Oct. 16, a confidential settlement has been signed by both parties.

Falgout's mother, Kimberly Estopinal filed suit against Maxim and Helms in November 2006, alleging Helms, a registered nurse for Maxim, waited over 10 minutes to call 911 after Madison's tracheostomy tube became dislodged.

According to the complaint, Madison Falgout was fitted with a tracheostomy tube to assist her in breathing.

Helms was allegedly attempting to single-handedly change Madison's tube when she allegedly unfastened the tracheotomy tube ties on Aug. 26, 2005.

"After unfastening the tracheotomy tube ties, defendant turned away from Madison at which time Madison coughed and the tracheostomy tube became dislodged from Madison's windpipe," the complaint states.

Estopinal claims Helms did not have the appropriate supplies at hand in case the tube accidentally dislodged.

She also claims Helms then attempted to reinstall the tube without first inserting an obturator into the tracheostomy tube.

According to Estopinal, Helms used excessive force in attempting to reinstall the tracheostomy tube causing the stoma to bleed and swell which blocked Madison's windpipe, cutting off her air supply.

On Oct. 16, Estopinal filed a motion to settle the case.

She wanted Madison County Circuit Judge David Hylla to give her 85.6 of the settlement and the remaining 14.4 percent split between her two surviving children.

Estopinal also asked Hylla to give her lawyer Martin Mengarelli of Granite City, one third of the settlement.

Madison Falgout was born healthy on Father's Day 1999. At age 9 weeks, while her mother was at work, Madison was left in the care of her father. Because she was crying, her father violently shook her and slammed her into her crib. He left her there, with the door closed, for five hours.

Madison was taken to a local hospital and placed on life support. From there she was transported by helicopter to a larger children's hospital in St. Louis.

Still on life support, it was learned her condition was caused by trauma. Madison's father gave an excuse that an ashtray had been knocked off a coffee table and hit Madison in the head. Yet, there was not a single mark on her- no bruises, no red marks. Madison was in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit for a total of 13 days.

Madison had a massive brain injury, was blind, paralyzed from the waist down. She had 15-25 seizures a day when she was first injured. She suffered from cerebral palsy and severe scoliosis of her spine.

Because she was so young when she had to be put on life support, she lost the instinct that babies have to suck. Therefore, when she was taken off life support, she had "forgotten" how to take a bottle.

The doctors were very grim about Madison's prognosis. Most of the doctors did not believe she would survive.

On the 13th day at the hospital, she was taken off life support with the understanding that if she did not breathe on her own, she would be put back on. To the doctor's amazement, Madison did breathe, and did not need to be on life support again for almost three years.

Her father is serving a 25-year prison sentence.

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