Newborn's Brain Injury Brings $4.5 Million Settlement

2020 Medical Malpractice Trial Report
By Attorney Robert M. Higgins

Baby suffers brain damage during prolonged labor with signs of fetal distress

On 10/1/14, the plaintiff arrived at the hospital for delivery of her child. She had been having contractions for 24 hours and ruptured her membranes at home.

The plaintiff was placed on a fetal monitor upon admission and remained on the monitor up to the time of delivery. Throughout 10/1/14 and into the evening of 10/2/14, the plaintiff was in labor and the fetus’ heart rate was in a normal range without any abnormalities.

Around 8:30 pm on 10/2/14, the fetal monitor changed and the baby’s heart began to demonstrate a saw-tooth pattern indicative of fetal distress and requiring immediate delivery.

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The defendant family physician was present at the bedside when this pattern began. Despite noting concerning findings in the record, the defendant indicated that the plaintiff was making progress towards vaginal delivery and the plan was to continue labor. Mom continued to labor for another 2 hours with the defendant present. Throughout these 2 hours, the fetal monitor strip remained concerning and was indicative of fetal distress.

The minor plaintiff was born vaginally at 10:24 p.m. She was limp, was not breathing had a low heart rate and was blue. She was resuscitated In the delivery room and eventually was brought to the NICU. Upon arrival, she was noted to have a decreased level of consciousness and poor body tone. By the following day she was noted to be having seizures and an MRI showed significant brain injury due to lack of blood flow and oxygen. It was felt the brain injury occurred in the period of time leading up to delivery.

At 6 years of age, the minor plaintiff global developmental delays which affect every aspect of her life. She is unable to care for herself in any meaningful way.

The plaintiff was prepared to present testimony from expert medical witnesses that the child should have been delivered around 8:30 pm. And the defendant negligent is allowing the labor to continue. Had the child been delivered then, it was the opinion of the plaintiff’s experts that she would have been born without injury.

The defendant was prepared to present expert medical testimony that it was appropriate to continue the labor up through delivery and that the child’s injuries probably occurred much earlier in the pregnancy.

After mediation, the case settled for $4,500,000.

The minor plaintiff was represented by Robert M. Higgins and Andrew C. Meyer Jr.

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