Family of Woman who Died after Childbirth Gets $20M in Malpractice Suit

Nicole and Edward Bermingham the day she gave birth to their child. Photo: Courtesy Robins Kaplan LLP
Nicole and Edward Bermingham the day she gave birth to their child.

August 29, 2017 04:13 PM

The family of a woman who died six days after childbirth in 2013 was awarded $20 million by a Hennepin County jury on Monday.

The verdict was filed Monday in Hennepin County District Court. It awards to Edward Bermingham IV, the husband of Nicole Bermingham, more than $20.6 million in the malpractice case against nurse practitioner Patricia Eid and the company for which she worked, Emergency Care Consultants. Eid was hired by the consultancy and worked shifts at Abbot Northwestern Hospital.


An attorney for the Bermingham family, Chris Messerly of Robins Kaplan LLP, said the verdict represents the largest medical malpractice case in state history.

Nicole Bermingham died of sepsis Aug. 26, 2013, six days after giving birth to her first child at Abbott Northwestern, according to court documents. The lawsuit, filed in January 2016, described a difficult delivery following a 20-hour labor on Aug. 20.

The suit says the 30-year-old Nicole Bermingham began experiencing chills, nausea, worsening pain and fever three days later, and on the morning of Aug. 24 went to the emergency room at Abbott, where she relayed her symptoms to Eid. The nurse practitioner ordered lab work, the results of which showed classic signs of sepsis such as an abnormally low platelet count and an elevated white blood cell count, according to the lawsuit.

She was diagnosed that day with a urinary tract infection despite urinalysis results that showed no bacteria, according to the suit. She was sent home. 

Nicole Bermingham's condition worsened upon returning home, the suit says, and she lost consciousness later that day. She was taken back to the hospital's emergency department where "despite her doctors' best efforts, Ms. Bermingham died from her previously undiagnosed and untreated severe sepsis." The suit alleged Nicole Bermingham died due to Eid's decision to send the patient home "without diagnosing and treating her sepsis."

Messerly said the family wanted to convey they are pleased to have obtained justice for Nicole Bermingham.

The lawsuit went unsettled, and a jury trial began Aug. 21. The verdict, returned Monday, awarded Edward Bermingham as next-of-kin, now living in Arizona, $1.75 million for damages from the time of his wife's death until the verdict and more than $18.8 million in damages for future losses. 

Eid currently works as a certified nurse practitioner for Burnett Medical Center in Grantsburg, Wisconsin. Her biography page shows she graduated from the nursing school at the College of St. Catherine and obtained a master's degree in public health from the University of Minnesota.

An attorney for the defendants, Barbara Zurek, released the following statement:

This is a very difficult situation for everyone involved.  Loss of life in a case such as this is simply painful.

While we disagree with the jury's findings, we have great respect for the legal process and the hard work of the jury.

The well-being of my clients' (Ms. Eid and her employer, Emergency Care Consultants) patients sits at the heart of everything they do each day.  

We will not be making any further comment at this time.


Michael Oakes

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