Education

State to pay $3.5 million to father after death of woman, infant at University of Iowa hospitals

Agreement releases UIHC from liability in deaths

University of Iowa Health Care complex, which houses University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, is seen in this photo tak
University of Iowa Health Care complex, which houses University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, is seen in this photo taken on Friday, April 18, 2014, in Iowa City, Iowa. (Justin Wan/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — The state — primarily through its University of Iowa Physicians group — has agreed to pay a Warren County father $3.5 million to settle a lawsuit in which he accused the UI Hospitals and Clinics of negligence in the death of his wife and newborn child.

UI Physicians will contribute $2.8 million of the payment to Brian Boyce, 45, with the remaining $700,000 coming from the state’s general fund, according to the Jan. 23 settlement out of the Office of the Attorney General, which the State Appeal Board approved Monday.

That payment includes attorney fees and expenses and forever releases the state and UIHC from liability in the March 2016 deaths of his wife and infant, according to the agreement.

Boyce sued various health care providers and the state — in its capacity as operator of UIHC — on Feb. 16, 2017, after his wife, Tiffany Michelle Boyce, on March 12, 2016, went to Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines at 29 weeks pregnant complaining of cramping, vomiting, and a headache.

She was discharged but returned the next day and was admitted for similar complaints and a fever, according to Boyce’s lawsuit. The woman was transferred via helicopter to UIHC on March 17, where physicians at 1:43 a.m. delivered Brantlee Thomas Michael Boyce by emergency cesarean section.

Later that day, at 10:30 p.m., Tiffany Michelle Boyce died at UIHC. Brantlee died at 10 a.m. March 22 at UIHC, according to the lawsuit, which blames their deaths on a failure to timely diagnose and treat the mother and baby for herpes simplex virus.

Boyce sued for medical and burial expenses, the loss of future earnings, pain, and suffering.

The State Appeal Board on Monday also approved settlements involving two former employees — one with the Iowa Veterans Home and another who worked at the Independence Mental Health Institute.

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The Iowa Department of Justice out of the Office of the Attorney General agreed to pay Lana Comstock, of Story County, $75,000 to settle her allegations of age discrimination.

Of that total, $45,000 will go to Comstock and $30,000 will go to her attorneys,

Comstock, in a lawsuit filed in April 2018, accused the state of discriminating against her when it terminated her at age 53 on Oct. 7, 2016, and then filled her position with a 28-year-old.

“Prior to her termination, (Comstock’s) age was a constant criticism of her supervisors and (Comstock) was accosted multiple times by her supervisors for (Comstock’s) age and characteristics and stereotypes that go along with a person’s increasing age,” according to her lawsuit.

The state also agreed to settle with Kimberlee Oates, of Waterloo, who in December 2017 sued the Iowa Department of Human Services and Independence Mental Health Institute for disability discrimination when it terminated her due to a previous injury.

The $47,000 settlement is to be split $22,301.64 to Oates and $24,698.36 to her attorneys.

Comments: (319) 339-3158; vanessa.miller@thegazette.com

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