Infant-plaintiff who suffered brachial plexus injury at birth

WRSMH obtained a $1,300,000 jury verdict, after a three week medical malpractice trial in Staten Island, on behalf of a 6-year-old girl who suffered a brachial plexus injury known as Erb's palsy. We claimed that this injury occurred at birth when the nerves of the baby's shoulder were stretched and torn as the defendant obstetrician pulled her from the birth canal.

The baby was delivered vaginally using a vacuum extractor on an emergency basis due to hypoxia (lack of oxygen to the fetus). The defense argued that if not delivered within minutes, brain damage or death would have occurred. In proving malpractice, our attorney showed that even though an emergency existed, the delivery by vacuum extraction was negligent because the baby was too high within the birth canal to safely attempt this maneuver, thereby putting the baby at risk for having a shoulder get stuck on the bones of the pelvis (dystocia). Even though the defendant and the hospital record did not mention dystocia, Ed convinced the jury it existed from a written note after the birth in the defendant's medical chart which referred to dystocia. Ed argued that the only safe means of delivery was by caesarean section. We proved the doctor had seven other obstetrical patients that same day which may have affected the care given.

The injury has left the infant plaintiff with limited use of her arm and she is likely to require surgery. No offer of settlement was ever made throughout the trial and we expect the verdict to be upheld on appeal.

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