After 17 months of mediation, Beebe Medical Center, Lewes, Del., reached a proposed settlement with the families of hundreds of children abused by a staff pediatrician that will fairly compensate the victims without driving the hospital into bankruptcy, the parties said in a joint statement.
Under the terms of the agreement, a $123.2 million trust, made up of insurance proceeds and a cash payment from the hospital, would be created for the victims. Beebe also would provide future healthcare treatment to the victims.
Beebe notified bondholders this year that the hospital had set aside $13.7 million. The filing also predicted that more than 800 of Earl Bradley's former patients would be joining the settlement. Local news reports have put the number as high as 980.
Authorities arrested Bradley in December 2009, and he faced charges of sexually abusing young patients from 1998 to 2009. The court convicted Bradley last year and he received 14 lifetime prison sentences. Retired Delaware Supreme Court Judge Joseph Walsh served as the mediator in resolving the class-action lawsuit arising from abuse.
“The lawyers sought to balance the legal rights of their respective clients against the needs of the children, the availability of insurance proceeds, and the hospital's ability to continue to provide excellent care to the Lower Delaware community,” the statement said.
The settlement also would resolve all claims, without any admission or finding of liability, against the Medical Society of Delaware and members of its Physicians Health Committee, which, according to a state Justice Department investigation, failed to pass along a report regarding Bradley to the state medical board in 2004. The medical society's insurance carriers have agreed to contribute money toward the fund.
Beebe issued a lengthy statement describing the results of an internal inquiry in April 2010—a month before the state findings were published—and conceded that hospital staff members failed to report allegations and concerns about Bradley beginning in 1996. The hospital vigorously asserted that there was never any effort to hide allegations, noting that employees' children were among the victims.
Bradley came to Beebe in 1994 from Philadelphia and was employed by the hospital's pediatric practice until 1997, when he moved into private practice but continued to practice in the hospital.
Additional details about the agreement remain subject to a protective order pending a court hearing scheduled for Nov. 13 to review the fairness of the settlement.