Baby's Brain Damage at Birth: $2 Million Settlement

2020 Medical Malpractice Case Report
By Attorney Robert M. Higgins

Birth Injury Lawsuit

Obstetrician and nurse fail to intervene when baby shows signs of fetal distress during labor resulting in profound brain damage

Case background

On 6/24/13, the plaintiff arrived at the hospital to be induced for delivery of her first child as she was past her due date. Her prenatal course had been uneventful and all fetal testing had been reassuring.

The plaintiff had her induction started in the morning and progressed to the point that her labor started in the evening. The plaintiff labored overnight into the morning of 6/25/13. Up to that point, the baby was tolerating the labor process without any difficulties.

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Sudden signs of fetal distress

However, when the plaintiff started to push, at around 12:00pm, the baby started to show clear and immediate signs of fetal distress. The baby’s heart rate started to drop and the variability of her heart rate began to diminish. The defendant obstetrician and defendant nurse were both with the plaintiff at this time. The defendant obstetrician failed to intervene and deliver the baby. The defendant nurse failed to perform any intrauterine maneuvers to better oxygenate the baby.

Brain damage from lack of oxygen

Instead, the plaintiff’s labor was to continue for another 2 hours with the baby showing distress the entire time. Finally, around 2:15, the defendant obstetrician decided to attempt delivery by vacuum extraction and delivered the minor plaintiff at 2:21. At birth, the baby showed no signs of life. She was immediately handed to the pediatric team who resuscitated her and were able to get her breathing and her heart started.

Once stabilized, the minor plaintiff underwent a head MRI which showed bleeding along with profound brain damage from lack of oxygen. The minor plaintiff was 7 years of age at the time of settlement. She has significant, permanent global delays which require her to have assistance with all her activities of daily living.

Lawsuit claims negligence in failing to delivery baby sooner

The plaintiff consulted with experts in obstetrics and neurology. These experts were of the opinion that the defendants were negligent in failing to deliver the minor plaintiff when there were clear signs of fetal distress. It was their opinion that the baby’s brain injury would have been avoided if the defendants acted appropriately.

The case settled after the plaintiffs were deposed but prior to the defendant depositions. The case settled for $2,000,000 which was all of the available insurance coverage for the defendants.

The plaintiffs were represented by medical malpractice attorneys Robert M. Higgins and Andrew C. Meyer Jr.

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