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

Dr. Sonya L. Thomas was named as a defendant in a birth injury case that was claimed to have been caused by her negligence in the delivery of a baby, Regina Pilero, at St. Anthony Hospital on Jan.  6, 2007. Dr. Thomas is an obstetrician. It was alleged in the lawsuit that was filed on behalf of the minor child that Dr. Thomas chose not to correctly manage shoulder dystocia during Regina’s delivery and used excessive force to extract the baby.

Plaintiffs alleged this caused nerve root avulsion at C-7 with damage to the adjacent nerve trunks at C5-6 to the newborn.  A nerve root avulsion injury causes weakness to the nearby muscles and may be severe.

As a result of the brachial plexus injury, Regina required cable grafting and muscle surgery. Regina has permanent weakness and dysfunction in her left arm that represents $272,026 in past medical expenses along with a future life care plan for therapy and expenses that range from $481,647 to $698,217. In addition, it was presented at trial that Regina would have lost income ranging from $315,000 to $627,648 over the course of her expected life.

The second stage of labor lasted less than 20 minutes, and Dr. Thomas documented left occiput anterior position of the fetus. The Pilero family argued that Dr. Thomas must have applied excessive upward traction to cause the C-7 avulsion, which is the pulling away of the nerves stretching them.

Dr. Thomas denied applying excessive traction and argued that she has never used upward traction during a shoulder dystocia presentation. Shoulder dystocia is when the fetus’ shoulder is hung up on the mother’s pelvic bone preventing a normal and swift delivery of the baby, head first.

In addition, Dr. Thomas maintained that she managed the emergency of shoulder dystocia utilizing customary steps including supra pubic pressure, the McRoberts maneuver and delivery of the posterior arm.

Dr. Thomas further argued that the damage to the brachial plexus nerve root and trunk occurred prior to the delivery of the head. She also stated that there was no evidence of excessive force, and the parents did not testify that excessive force was applied.

According to plaintiff’s counsel, the jury was asked to return a verdict of $3,800,000 while the defendants’ counsel reported that the plaintiff asked the jury for a verdict range of $6,428,647 to $6,957,901. Before reaching its verdict in favor of Dr. Thomas and her practice, Little Village Women’s Health LLC, the jury deliberated for 3 hours and 45 minutes. The time that the jury deliberated may be construed as an indication that there was more than one juror who was inclined to find in favor of the Pilero family, but there is nothing reported about that situation. The jury’s deliberations are not often openly discussed by jurors after the trial.

Regina Pilero, a minor v. Dr. Sonya Thomas, Little Village Women’s Health, LLC, No. 09 L 15804 (Cook County, Ill.).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling birth injury cases, including brachial plexus injuries caused by the negligence of medical providers, for more than 38 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Chicago (Rogers Park, Hyde Park, Chinatown, East Side, Little Italy, Lincoln Square), Lincolnwood, Lincolnshire, Maywood, Elmwood Park, Melrose Park, Calumet City, Blue Island, Worth, Alsip, Matteson and Bridgeview, Ill.

Related blog posts:

$1 Million Settlement after Excessive Traction Causes Shoulder Dystocia at Birth

Chicago Brachial Plexus Injury Receives $3.27 Million Verdict

Cook County Jury Finds No Connection Between Baby’s Delivery and Quadriplegia