A Jackson County jury has awarded $108.6 million to the parents of a Lee's Summit woman who died of infection a month after the home birth of a stillborn daughter.
Jurors agreed with Gail and Darrell Mansfield of Kingsville who said their own son in law and members of a religious group botched the 2007 delivery of their daughter's child. Jurors were told that used unsterilized scissors in an attempt to deliver the infant and kept their daughter, Misty Mansfield Horner, from getting medical help. They said their failure to call for medical attention led to her painful death from infection.
Horner died in January 2007, a month after the delivery that was fatal to the baby. She was married to a Lee's Summit police officer, Caleb Horner, who has since lost his job.
The parents' lawyer, Danny Thomas, said Misty Mansfield Horner was "vindicated" after the jury Friday found the defendants, including brothers John and Caleb Horner, liable.
The Horners represented themselves and said Horner hadn't been isolated and that she made her own decisions. They also said they had the right to deny hospital treatment based on his religious beliefs.
John Horner told jurors that natural foods and his strong Christian beliefs kept him free of illness and disease. He said finding him negligent would have a chilling effect on other Christians with similar beliefs.
Caleb Horner admitted to cutting his wife while trying to deliver the breech baby.
"I did what I believe had to be done to save the life of my child," he testified, adding he knew as a police officer that individuals have the right to decline medical treatment. "Misty made choices. Some didn't line up with those that her friends and family believe."
Horner's family remains outraged that her husband and brother in law didn't face jail time because the prosecutor's office decided against filing charges. While the family does not expect to receive millions because of the verdict, they are glad the jurors made a statement.
"Our attorney did announce in court that it is a cult," Gail Mansfield said. "They broke her. Tey broke her down."
When her daughter tried to get a sonogram, her husband and in-laws would tell her she was out of step with her religion, Gail Mansfield said, who tried to get her daughter medical treatment but was barred by her son in law.
"He said, 'We researched this and you can't touch me.' Well honey, we touched him," she said. "It's not about the money. Maybe, just maybe, they might not kill anyone else by being exposed."
Copyright2012 KCTV (MeredithCorp.) and Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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