Articles Posted in Verdicts and Settlements

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Our Chicago birth injury attorneys often receive troubling calls from heartbroken parents describing incidents of shoulder dystocia. According to a recent article from MissionLocal.org, shoulder dystocia is a birth complication often associated with, but not limited to pregnant women with diabetes. Shoulder dystocia occurs when a child’s head is delivered, but the shoulders of the child are unable to pass through the birth canal. When this occurs, the child is immediately in jeopardy of suffering serious birth injuries or even death. According to the report, sometimes doctors are able to avoid injury by quickly repositioning the child, but others aren’t so lucky.

Shoulder dystocia is one of the most dangerous birth complications. Once the head of a baby is delivered, significant strain is placed on the umbilical cord. In a typical childbirth setting this is not a problem because of the relatively short period of time between delivery of a baby’s head and shoulders. In shoulder dystocia cases, however, the prolonged stress often leads to permanent injuries.

John Perconti filed a lawsuit against Evanston Hospital in 2005 for complications suffered by Denise Juarez when the birth complication of shoulder dystocia caused her to ultimately suffer from Erb’s palsy, which is the weakness or loss of movement caused by damage to the nerve bundles at one’s shoulders.

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A jury recently awarded $2.5 million to a grieving couple who lost their baby in a birth injury caused by doctors’ negligence.

The couple sued various obstetricians and gynecologists as well the practice where the expecting mother was treated. While obstetricians specialize in the management of pregnancy and labor, gynecologists specialize in the female reproductive system. Together, “ob/gyns” are trained to diagnosis and treat disorders and diseases in this field.

According to court documents, doctors discovered a complication during the mother’s pregnancy. Lab results revealed that the unborn baby had O-positive blood whereas the mother had Rh-negative blood. When this combination of blood types occurs, the baby’s O-positive blood is treated by the mother’s body as an intruder and the mother’s Rh-negative blood produces antibodies to fight the invading O-positive blood. The mother’s antibodies start to break down the fetus’s red blood cells. This condition is called hemolytic disease or hemolytic anemia. It can become severe enough to cause serious illness, brain damage, or even death in the fetus or newborn.

According to the lawsuit, doctors failed to properly monitor and treat the mother and her baby after the complication was revealed. The unborn baby developed immune hydrops fetalis, a complication of Rh incompatibility. Although a cesarean section delivery was preformed, the baby did not survive. In addition, the mother will unlikely be able to deliver another viable fetus, according to the complaint.

The jury not only awarded the parents $2 million in compensatory damages but the jury also determined that the doctors should pay $500,000 in punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended to reform or deter the defendant and others from engaging in similar conduct. They are usually awarded when the jury determines that the defendants acted with reckless disregard for the safety of others. Although punitive damages are not intended to compensate the plaintiff, the plaintiff usually receives the entire punitive damage award.

To learn more about this lawsuit and other birth injuries that went to trial, follow the links.
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A birth injury lawyer secured an $8.5 million settlement for the family of a severely brain-damaged child. The Jersey Journal reported that even though the trial had already begun, attorneys reached an agreement to settle after five days of trial testimony.

According to the lawsuit, when the mother-to-be first went to the hospital, several prenatal tests were conducted. All of these tests suggested that the unborn baby was normal and healthy. A prenatal heart monitor was then attached to the mother’s abdomen to track the baby’s heart rate. Several hours later, the baby’s heart rate started to drop. In fact, records showed that the unborn baby’s heart rate reached a dangerously low level of 60 beats per minute.

Although the baby’s heart rate was grave and required immediate medical attention, evidence suggested that the labor and delivery room nurse waited almost half an hour before calling the attending obstetrician. As the unborn baby continued to struggle, the obstetrician took over twenty minutes before even starting an emergency Cesarean section.

Evidence at trial showed that the unborn baby’s umbilical chord was compressed. This can cause a baby’s low heart rate and can cause the fetus to be deprived of oxygen. Experts in the case claimed that as a result of the unnecessary delays by the obstetrician and the delivery room nurse, the unborn baby suffered permanent brain damage.

The child, who is now five years old, suffers from seizures, is unable to walk, and needs to be fed through a straw. The child will be in need for full-time care for his entire life. According to the terms of this birth injury settlement, $6 million was provided for the medical expenses the child will incur in the future. The parents received $2.5 million as compensation for their emotional pain and other damages.

To read more about this birth injury settlement, follow the link.

Unfortunately birth injuries are not uncommon. In early March a family received $19.2 million for their child’s birth injury. Click on the link if you wish to learn more about the family’s struggle with their child’s birth injury. Birth injuries often result in brain injury for the unborn child. If you want to learn more about brain injuries, follow the link.

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Chicago birth injury lawyers John J. Perconti and Patricia Gifford of Levin & Perconti represented a ten year old girl who suffers from cerebral palsy and mental retardation. The young girl sustained a brain injury during complications that could have been prevented during her birth.

On November 24, 2010, Levin & Perconti announced that the Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, IL and a physician who failed to perform a timely Cesarean section agreed to pay a $6.5 million present cash value settlement to the injured child and her family.

Doctors failed to diagnose cephalopelvic disproportion in the pregnant mother. Physicians further failed to order an emergency Cesarean section even though they noted erratic decelerations in the fetus, a common warning sign for fetal hypoxia. Once an emergency Cesarean section was ordered, mistakes made by the anesthesiologist resulted in the nursing staff having to hold the mother down while the incision was made during the surgery.

Fortunately, both the newborn and mother survived the procedure. However, the newborn suffered from hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, which caused the child’s cerebral palsy and mental retardation. The family plans to use the settlement to provide their daughter with the appropriate care she currently needs and the ongoing care she will have to have throughout her adult life.
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A jury awarded $2.3 million in damages to a Virginia boy who suffered arm injuries at birth. As a result, the 4 year old child’s right arm is permanently disabled. The child’s mother was also awarded an additional $60,000 to reimburse her for all the medical expenses related to her son’s injuries. The lawsuit involved a nurse-midwife and the medical practice she was associated with.

To read more about this birth injury settlement follow the link to HamptonRoads.com

Midwifery offers care to childbearing women during their pregnancy, labor and birth, and during the postpartum period. They can also care for the newborn through to six weeks of age, including assisting the mother with breastfeeding. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, certified nurse-midwives and certified midwives attended 7.4% of U.S. births in 2006.

This health care profession came under fire in 2003 when a Sonoma County infant died after birth due to the alleged actions of a midwife. The mother, while under the guidance of a midwife, labored too long in her home causing life ending complications. Although state medical boards typically govern and regulate midwifery licenses, the family filed suit against the midwife for gross negligence. In that case, the midwife was already under investigation with the medical board for incompetence regarding two other home births.
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Aboutlawsuits.com is reporting that a hospital will appeal a $56 million New York Supreme Court jury verdict awarded to a young boy, now seven, who suffered severe injuries during birth. According to the report, during delivery, the infant’s shoulder became impacted against his mother’s pelvic bone, causing a shoulder dystocia.

When shoulder dystocia occurs, it is crucial for labor and delivery staff to take immediate action to reduce harm to the baby. There are a number of maneuvers that practitioners should know to help decrease the risk of serious injury when dystocia occurs. However, if these maneuvers are performed incorrectly, infants can suffer serious birth injuries. In this case, the jury determined that the obstetrician and hospital staff failed to alleviate the shoulder dystocia in a timely manner, causing the newborn to suffer brain injury and nerve damage. The boy now lives with developmental delays and his speech is impaired.
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Xzavier Hyman, a four year old child from Staten Island, was recently awarded $510,000 in a Medical Malpractice action against the obstetrician-gynecologist responsible for delivering him.

Xzavier’s mother, Ms. Spicer, was going through a difficult birth so Xzavier’s doctor, Dr. Paul Heltzer, ordered the use of Pitocin, a drug which helps speed up delivery by inducing contractions, to help her along in the birthing process. Pitocin is commonly used for women who are having difficulty delivering their child. However, Dr. Heltzer made the mistake of administering the drug for too long which put stress on Xzavier’s brain, causing three or four strokes and three seizures within 10 hours of his birth.

Xzavier’s attorney’s successfully argued that Ms. Spicer was kept too long on Petocin, and her relentless contractions stressed Xzavier. Additionally, they argued that a Caesarean operation should have been performed several hours before Ms. Spicer gave vaginal birth to Xzavier. If these steps were taken, Xzavier’s injuries could have been avoided.

The delivery, and subsequent stokes and seizures, left Xzavier with permanent injuries. Xzavier still suffers from some speech and fine motor skill deficiencies, the gap in IQ between him and his peers has continued to widen, and his life expectancy was cut approximately six years.

Both Xzavier’s mother and attorney expressed joy that the verdict came down in their favor, but disappointment that the award was not higher. Many birth injury malpractice cases award damages far greater than the $510,000 that Xzavier received. Much of this is based on the ongoing medical bills that a child will face as he ages because of the injury.
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According to the Orland Sentinel, a mother who sued EVAC for injuries her son received during a premature birth has reached a settlement for $1.4 million with EVAC ambulance services. Margarita Chess was six months pregnant when she gave birth to her son, Addison, inside an ambulance owned and operated by EVAC. Addison was born with cerebral palsy and suffered brain damage.

Chess first arrived at the Bert Fish Medical Center in New Smyrna Beach, where a doctor decided to transfer her to Halifax medical Center in Daytona because Bert Fish Medical Center was not equipped to handle her prematurely born son. Halifax Medical Center did not accept the transfer, citing that they lacked specialists who could handle premature births.
At the trial EVAC argued that paramedics could not refuse the emergency-room doctor’s order. The jury found EVAC negligent for accepting transport and for the care it provided. Originally Chess brought suit against both the hospitals and doctors but settlement was reached with EVAC for a total of $1.4 million.
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A jury recently awarded over $23 million to 5-year-old boy and his mother in a birth malpractice trial in Milwaukee that lasted over two weeks. The jury found the woman’s doctor negligent for the birth injury her son sustained during delivery in 2005. According to a report in the Journal Sentinel, the boy suffers from cerebral palsy as a result of the brain damage that he sustained during his delivery. The jury found the doctor negligent for failing to perform a C-section despite the woman’s prolonged labor and signs of distress. Instead of a C-section, the doctor ordered a medical resident to deliver the baby with forceps.

Most likely, the child’s brain damage was the result of hypoxia, or lack of oxygen. When complications arise during the labor and delivery process, it can cause a newborn’s oxygen supply to be cut off. When a child goes without sufficient oxygen for an extended period of time, this can lead to brain damage which can cause conditions like cerebral palsy. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke defines cerebral palsy as term used to describe a number of neurological disorders that affect one’s movement and coordination. The effects of cerebral palsy can range in severity, but in many instances sufferers will have to undergo lifelong medical care and treatments. In the above example, the damages will help to compensate for future medical costs as well as the loss of future potential income and pain and suffering.

To learn more about the recent birth injury verdict, follow the hyperlink.

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A jury has awarded the family of a 12-year-old boy $18.5 million in a medical malpractice lawsuit against a hospital and obstetrician, according to The Star-Ledger. An emergency cesarean section became necessary for his birth back in 1998, but it was unnecessarily delayed, causing brain damage and the development of cerebral palsy. Experts testified at trial that, if the procedure would have been performed just eight minutes sooner, he would not have developed the condition.

When a fetus begins showing signs of distress, such as an irregular heartbeat, it may mean that it is not getting enough oxygen. If so, it becomes critical to deliver the baby as soon as possible, usually by performing an emergency c-section. Delays in the performance of these emergency c-sections can cause serious, permanent injuries to oxygen-deprived babies, such as brain damage and cerebral palsy. Many of these delays are not only avoidable, but caused by the negligence of doctors and hospitals.

If you believe that your child suffered a birth injury as a result of a healthcare provider’s negligence, please contact us to discuss your case. Our Illinois birth injury lawyers are here to help.