$1 Million Jury Verdict for Brachial Plexus Birth Injury Caused by Excessive Force

On March 1, 2011, Jamie Rae was in induced for labor at 39 weeks gestation due to the large size of her baby. The defendant obstetrician, Dr. James Riva, did a vaginal delivery of the baby, Bailei Rae, at a hospital in Maryville, Ill.

During the course of the delivery of Bailei, a shoulder dystocia occurred involving the anterior presenting shoulder. That means that the baby’s shoulder was stuck on the pelvic bone of her mother, Jamie Rae. While performing maneuvers to relieve the shoulder dystocia, Dr. Riva allegedly exerted excessive traction on the baby’s head, causing a 5-level cervical nerve root injury including a complete avulsion at C-8.

As a result, the 9 lbs 2 oz newborn baby, Bailei Rae, sustained a brachial plexus injury to the posterior shoulder with permanent nerve root damage and Erb’s palsy in the left arm.

Even though three surgeries were completed, Bailei has limited use of her left arm and hand. The family has spent $135,000 in medical expenses to try to repair Bailei’s left arm.

Bailei’s mother claimed that Dr. Riva should have emergently performed a Cesarean section to deliver the large baby, and he was negligent in choosing to apply excessive downward or tilting traction on the baby’s head during delivery.

The defendant doctor argued that the injury was caused by the mother’s pushing and natural forces of labor (uterine contractions) while the posterior shoulder was hung up on the mother’s sacral promontory. The sacral promontory is a large triangular-shaped bone at the base of the spine and at the upper or back part of the pelvic cavity. Complicating the damages was the fact that the baby has also been diagnosed with autism, which was unrelated to the delivery. The jury deliberated for five hours before it returned its verdict at $1 million.

The attorneys for Bailei Rae’s family were David M. Zevan and Rachel L. Roman who asked the jury to return a verdict of $4 million. There was no offer by the defendant to settle the case before the trial.

The jury’s verdict of $1 million was made up of the following damages:

• $116,500 for disability;
• $116,500 for disfigurement;
• $116,500 for pain and suffering;
• $134,000 for past medical expenses; and
• $516,500 for future medical expenses.

Bailei Rae, a minor v. Dr. James Riva, No. 12 L 736 (Madison County, Illinois).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling birth injury cases, traumatic birth injury cases, shoulder dystocia cases, Erb’s palsy cases and medical negligence cases for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of a medical provider for more than 38 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Antioch, Bannockburn, Highland Park, Crystal Lake, Grayslake, Gurnee, Rosemont, Stickney, Streamwood, Tinley Park, Willow Springs, Winnetka, Robbins, Rolling Meadows, Salk Village, Schiller Park, Burr Ridge, Calumet City, Evanston, Evergreen Park, Forest Park, Glencoe, Glenview, Northfield, Northbrook, Melrose Park and Lincolnshire, Ill.

Related blog posts:

Cook County Jury Finds in Favor of Doctor in Brachial Plexus Injury Case

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Chicago Brachial Plexus Injury Lawsuit Receives $3.27 Million Verdict