Cook County Jury Finds for Obstetrician in Medical Malpractice Case for Baby Harmed with Brachial Plexus Injury During Labor and Delivery

Keyanna Vaughn, the mother of Marcus Crawford Jr., was first admitted to the University of Illinois Hospital in Chicago for induction of labor on Aug. 11, 2009. This was done after test results were revealed during a prenatal visit.

On Aug. 12, 2009, a hospital intern and senior resident attempted vaginal delivery without success. Dr. Meredith Cruz was a maternal/fetal medicine fellow who took over at that time. Dr. Cruz had completed her OB/Gyn residency in June 2009 and had recently begun her maternal/fetal medicine program.

Dr. Cruz diagnosed that the fetus was experiencing shoulder dystocia. Shoulder dystocia is a specific situation arising in labor and delivery when the delivery of the baby’s head occurs, but the anterior shoulder of the baby cannot pass through the birth canal and requires the doctor’s or nurse midwife’s manipulation or maneuver to rotate the baby. In other words, a shoulder dystocia is diagnosed when the baby’s shoulders do not deliver right after the baby’s head is delivered. The baby gets stuck in the birth canal as a result, which can clearly be a very serious dilemma.

In this case, when the shoulder dystocia took place, a code was called and the baby was delivered within 60 seconds using the McRoberts maneuver and suprapubic pressure.

Dr. Cruz charted that there was only a mild shoulder dystocia given the short period of time to complete the delivery. Nevertheless, Baby Marcus Crawford Jr. was born with decreased movement in his left arm because of the shoulder being stuck and the stretching of the important nerves of the child connected there. MRI studies and surgical findings in 2010 confirmed that Marcus sustained a brachial plexus rupture and avulsion at C5-C7.

In spite of nerve grafting, Marcus still suffers from a significant disability in his left arm and shoulder.

Annual day-in-life video footage was taken over several years and those segments were shown to the jury. The attorneys representing the Marcus Crawford Jr. family contended that Dr. Cruz negligently applied excessive lateral traction during the delivery, improperly used lateral traction as a maneuver to resolve the shoulder dystocia and negligently instructed Keyanna Vaughn to continuously push.

Other family members in the delivery room (the baby’s father and grandmother) claimed excessive traction was applied while the intern, resident and nurse denied any recollection of this delivery.

The defendant physician argued that the shoulder dystocia was properly diagnosed, it was resolved using only standard initial maneuvers, some traction and maternal pushing as required in every delivery and traction and pushing were needed during the presence of shoulder dystocia to determine whether the maneuvers succeeded.

Dr. Cruz’s defense further maintained that brachial plexus injuries, even to this severity, can occur in some newborns as the baby comes down the birth canal or with the normal forces of labor and delivery.

Before trial, the demand to settle the case was $3,750,000. There was no offer to settle. The jury was asked to enter a verdict of $12,555,000 to $13,850,000+.

The Marcus Crawford Jr. family presented medical testimony by a hand surgeon while the defendants presented medical testimony by obstetricians, a neuroradiologist and a nurse. Plaintiff presented experts in obstetrics, pediatric hand surgery, pediatric neurology, neuroradiology, rehabilitation/physical medicine and vocational economics. Dr. Cruz attorneys presented experts in maternal and fetal medicine as well as biomedical engineering.

Unfortunately for Marcus Crawford Jr. and family, the jury returned its verdict in favor of Dr. Cruz.

Marcus Crawford, Jr., a minor v. Dr. Meredith O. Cruz, No. 14 L 6002 (Cook County, Ill.).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling birth trauma injury cases, brachial plexus injury lawsuits, hospital negligence cases, labor and delivery negligence lawsuits and medical negligence lawsuits for individuals, families and loved ones who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of a medical provider for more than 40 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Naperville, Hinsdale, Aurora, Mount Prospect, Palos Park, Oak Forest, Burr Ridge, Country Club Hills, Countryside, River Grove, Chicago (Garfield Park, Humboldt Park, Logan Square, Polish Village, Portage Park, Mayfair), Morton Grove, Skokie and Park Ridge, Ill.

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