Attorney Robert D. KreismanRead His Profile »

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baby-1531059__180Llulin Cruz, 31, was admitted to St. Barnabas Hospital to deliver her first child. The attending obstetrician was Dr. Michael Ihemaguba, who performed a midline episiotomy after he delivered the baby’s head. Dr. Ihemaguba then told Cruz to continue pushing. This resulted in a fourth-degree laceration, which Dr. Ihemaguba then repaired. The next day, Cruz complained of vaginal gas and Dr. Ihemaguba told her this would improve over time.

About 5 months later, Cruz became pregnant with her second child. She consulted midwife Gloria Murray for prenatal care and told her that she had fecal-smelling vaginal discharge. Murray called Dr. Ihemaguba and told him about Cruz’s symptoms. Dr. Ihemaguba instructed Murray to do nothing, but he told her to send Cruz to him after the baby was born.

After the vaginal delivery, which the midwife performed, Cruz was diagnosed as having a rectal-vaginal fistula. Cruz required 13 surgeries during the next 3 years, including an ileostomy and a “pulled down” procedure involving removal of her rectum. Cruz has lost control of her bowel function and is no longer able to engage in sexual relations. As she ages, her medical condition is expected to worsen, necessitating a permanent colostomy.

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Baby Doe was less than two months old when she contracted respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which caused her to stop breathing during the night. Her foster mother, Betty Cook, called the doctor’s office 4 hours later and was told to go to an emergency room. Instead, she took the baby to a clinic where she was seen by a family physician, Dr. Anne Hamilton.

During the appointment, Baby Doe stopped breathing necessitating resuscitation by Dr. Hamilton. Dr. Hamilton told Cook to drive the child to a hospital five minutes away. At the hospital,the baby was diagnosed as having suffered a hypoxic brain injury. Baby Doe is now 5 years old. She suffers from cortical blindness and is unable to walk, stand, sit, and feed herself or talk.

The Doe family filed a lawsuit against Betty Cook, the foster parent and Dr. Hamilton and the insurance fund for foster parents alleging that (1) Hamilton choose not to summon emergency care or accompany Baby Doe to the hospital; and (2) Cook choose not to timely go the hospital after she was told to do so by the doctor.

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Emanuel A. Friedman M.D. introduced the Friedman Curve in 1955. In a recently submitted article written by Michigan lawyers Jesse M. Reiter and Emily G. Thomas, the authors and stalwarts of the Birth Trauma Litigation Group write that the gold standard for assessing the normal and abnormal progress of labor was changed in 2014. The change by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) replaced Friedman’s curve with new labor standards.

The purpose of the Friedman Curve was to assess labor progression and to identify whether the mother had a “reduced likelihood of a safe vaginal delivery.”  When there was an abnormal progress of labor, such as when neonatal morbidity and mortality were greatly increased, the analysis called on obstetricians to decide very quickly to rescue the unborn baby.

According to the Friedman papers, an “arrest of dilation” was diagnosed by documenting the lack of dilation progress in the active phase of labor. “Protracted active-phase” dilation was defined to be 1.2 cm per hour or 1.5 cm per hour where there was more than one fetus to be delivered.  According to the paper submitted by attorneys Reiter and Thomas, two vaginal examinations done by the same individuals spaced two hours apart was good enough to make this diagnosis. If the cervix did not dilate according to the maximal slope on Friedman’s curve over two hours, the patient was diagnosed with failure to progress/arrest of labor and delivered by Cesarean delivery. Cesarean delivery was then recommended to avoid neonatal death or catastrophic injury. Many studies over the 60 years showed that the research supported the Friedman Curve.

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This was a birth injury case in which the jurors were asked to award up to $7.5 million for a life care plan for the baby girl, Jill Todd, as well as $1.4 million in lost wages and an unspecified amount of damages for pain and suffering. The issue in this case was whether the University of Iowa’s Health Center physicians and staff provided proper care to Jill Todd in November 2010.  After two days of deliberation, the jury returned a 9-1 verdict finding that the University of Iowa Health Center was negligent but that negligence wasn’t “a cause of damage” to the child. This was an odd verdict or at least one that most would consider inconsistent.

Investigators confirmed that they were looking into an unusual claim of jury tampering in this medical malpractice, birth injury case involving the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. As a result of the jury’s unusual verdict, the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics paid nothing for the injured child.

After a 3-week trial, the jury found that the hospital was negligent in caring for a mother who suffered complications before giving birth in 2010. But the jurors found that negligence was not a cause of damage to the child. The baby suffered brain damage and is severely disabled. The jury awarded no compensation to the family.

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A Cook County jury entered its verdict in favor of the defendant obstetrician, Dr. Cynthia Page, following a trial claiming that the birth of Anthony Ruiz was delayed causing him a lifetime of cognitive deficits.

The family of Anthony Ruiz, a minor, claimed in their Cook County, Ill., lawsuit that a delay in performing a Cesarean section surgery at Elmhurst Memorial Hospital on Sept. 16, 2010 was the cause of the baby’s cognitive impairments, including a lower IQ, diminished executive function and impaired fine motor skills.

The case centered on a nurse who telephoned the defendant obstetrician Dr. Page at 12:31 a.m. to tell her about the baby’s distress. Dr. Page arrived at the hospital at 12:48 a.m. and a C-section was ordered at 12:56 a.m. The newborn was delivered at 1:20 a.m.

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This was a medical malpractice and wrongful death case of a newborn baby. The issue on appeal to the Vermont Supreme Court was whether the defendants’ (two physicians and hospitals) motion to dismiss predicated on the plaintiff’s (the family of the newborn) failure to timely serve summonses on these defendants was justified.

The parents of the newborn baby alleged that on June 12, 2012 their son died as a result of medical malpractice at the defendant hospital and at the hands of two physicians, who were claimed to have been negligent in their care and treatment or lack of it.

The plaintiffs filed their complaints against both sets of defendants on June 20, 2014. Under the applicable code of civil procedure, the plaintiffs had 60 days to serve the defendants with summonses.  On Aug. 18, 2014, the day before the 60-day period was set to expire, plaintiffs moved for an enlargement of time for service, requesting that the court extend the deadline for service of process “for an additional sixty (60) days.”

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On April 6, 2007,  Dramara Sviels was born at Memorial Medical Center in Springfield, Ill. During the delivery, Dramara contracted Group B Streptococcus infection, which was claimed not diagnosed before Dramara was discharged from the hospital the next day. As a result of the infection, it progressed to very serious meningitis, which was diagnosed on April 8, 2007. The meningitis left Dramara with cerebral palsy and seizure disorder. According to the report of this case, the lifetime medical and caretaking expenses would amount to more than $20 million.

In the lawsuit filed by Dramara’s family, it was maintained that the child was exhibiting symptoms of sepsis during his stay at Memorial Hospital at the time of his discharge and during an April 7 phone call from Dramara’s  parents to the hospital nursery after discharge. The lawsuit maintained that these symptoms should have been immediately treated.

The experts who testified on behalf of Dramara’s family stated that a chain of command protocol at the hospital should have been initiated to delay the infant’s discharge and that the nurses who handled the April 7 phone call should have referred the baby to a pediatrician or to the emergency room for immediate care.

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In a recent report it was stated that cerebral palsy affects nearly 10,000 newborns every year. The statistics are more troubling in that research shows that 25-35% of all cerebral palsy cases could have been prevented. It has been reported that medical errors during or after the delivery of a child was the cause of cerebral palsy in 35-45% of deliveries.

The diagnosis of cerebral palsy occurs usually by 18 months of age. One in 323 children has been identified with cerebral palsy. The malady is more common in boys than in girls. In addition, cerebral palsy is found more often in children of African-American descent than in Caucasian, Asian or Hispanic children.

The medical costs of caring for and treating a child with cerebral palsy are enormous. According to the study, the lifetime cost of care for an individual with cerebral palsy is almost $1 million.

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Zofran is an anti-nausea drug.  It has been linked to serious birth defects when used during pregnancy.  In 2015, a federal panel created the special multidistrict litigation docket for victims who had been using the Zofran drug made by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

The defendant, GSK, filed a motion in this federal district court claiming that the lawsuit was pre-empted by federal law under the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Wyeth v. Levine.  In that case, it was held that federal regulatory clearance of a medication does not shield the manufacturer from liability under state law.  The U.S. District Court in the Massachusetts district, however, denied the motion stating that the judge was “loath to dismiss” the claims without giving families a chance to develop the facts of their respective cases through discovery.

Zofran was first approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration in 1991.  It is intended to control extreme cases of nausea such as with cancer medications or following an invasive surgery.  It has not been approved for use during a pregnancy.  However, the drug Zofran has been prescribed by physicians to expectant mothers to lessen the symptoms of morning sickness.

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Beatriz Escobar received prenatal care from the defendant obstetrician, Dr. Daniel Rostein. She was admitted to MacNeal Hospital for induction of labor at 38 weeks gestation on the afternoon of Oct. 3, 2005.

On admission, she was given Pitocin at progressively increased dosages throughout the evening. After fetal monitor strips indicated possible fetal complications around midnight, Dr. Rostein, who was not at the hospital, ordered preparations for a Cesarean section delivery.

Once Dr. Rostein arrived at the hospital and evaluated Escobar, he found no fetal concerns and decided to proceed with the original plan for a vaginal delivery.

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