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Family won't get new trial

Beckers sought damages from Mayo Clinic in malpractice suit

From staff reports

A Rochester couple whose adopted daughter suffered permanent brain injuries a few weeks after birth will not get a new trial in a medical malpractice suit they brought against Mayo Clinic.

Olmsted District Court Judge Robert Birnbaum denied Nancy and Michael Becker's motion for a new trial in an order filed Wednesday.

The Beckers' daughter, Nykkole, was born in July 1997. Her biological parents first took Nykkole to Saint Marys Hospital emergency room with a fracture when she was 31⁄2; weeks old. More emergency room visits followed before Nykkole was taken to the hospital Sept. 15, 1997, with skull fractures and a subdural hematoma. Doctors diagnosed her with shaken baby syndrome. As a result of her injuries, Nykkole will never function beyond the level of an infant.

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Her biological father, Robert Rossini, was convicted of criminal charges and is serving time in prison.

During a civil trial in January, a jury found Mayo negligent in its care of Nykkole during the first months of her life. But jurors said the negligence did not directly cause the harm Nykkole suffered at the hands of her biological father, and they awarded no damages to the Beckers.

The Beckers claimed they were deprived of a fair trial and that evidentiary rulings made prior to the trial prevented them from introducing their best evidence at the trial. They argued the district court committed errors of law because the evidentiary rulings excluded evidence of Mayo's alleged failure to report the suspected abuse of Nykkole.

In his order, Birnbaum wrote that "there were adequate grounds for the jury to conclude that Mayo's negligence was casually related to Nykkole's injuries but they concluded otherwise.

"Plaintiffs cannot now complain they were barred from presenting their theory of liability at trial simply because the result is unfavorable," Birnbaum wrote. "In other words, plaintiffs cannot show that the barred evidence would have changed the outcome."

The judge also ordered the Beckers to pay $14,836.11 to Mayo for expert witness fees, travel expenses and other costs.

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