Jury rules in favor of Benton doctor in child death case

Josh Briggs
Managing Editor

A Saline County Circuit Court jury has ruled in favor of a Benton doctor in a civil case regarding a claim of medical negligence in the the 2011 death of a child, according to verdict forms filed Friday at the Saline County Courthouse.

The defendant, Dr. John Baka, sat through a 10-day trial that ended Friday.

Also, it was ruled in Baka's favor that he did not fail to supply adequate information to obtain an informed consent for a patient's procedure.

A complaint was filed Oct. 2, 2014, following the death of Peyton Owens, 3.

The complaint alleged that Baka failed to administer proper medical care to the child immediately following his birth at Saline Memorial Hospital in 2007.

The documents stated that in the hours prior to Peyton's birth, fetal heart strips indicated that the child was "suffering from fetal distress."

In an answer from Baka, filed Nov. 12, 2014, he denied that the fetal strips indicated any distress, adding that the monitor "showed good and reassuring signs throughout Tricia Cowart's labor and delivery."

Records also said that at no time did Baka request a pediatrician to be present during the birth process nor did he provide any other medical interventions on behalf of the child.

Peyton was born at 11:15 p.m. and placed on Cowart's chest. It was noted that the child had "no spontaneous respirations" and it
was then that Baka asked for additional help, according to the complaint.

"Baka was aware of the emergent condition from which Peyton Owens suffered," the complaint said. "At no time did Baka go to provide aid and assistance to Peyton, even though Baka knew that Peyton was not breathing and that the nursing staff was unable to provide effective resuscitation efforts."

On July 17, 2011, Peyton died "as a direct consequence of the injuries suffered during his birth," the complaint said.