Chicago Advocate Hospital Settles for $14 Million in Childbirth Death of Mother – Lawson v. Advocate Health Hospitals Corp., et al.

The family of a woman who died during childbirth has settled an Illinois wrongful death case for $14 million. The medical malpractice case resulted not only in the mother’s death, but also involved a child born with brain damage at Chicago’s Advocate Trinity Hospital. The settlement was reached in Sidonia Lawson, etc. v. Advocate Health Hospitals Corp., Cannon Vernon, MD, Jamiere Y. Smith, MD, et al., No. 09 L 12090.

In 2007, the 32 year-old decedent, Sabrina Lawson, went to Advocate Trinity Hospital with labor contractions. While there, the staff induced her with medications to try and speed along her delivery. However, while receiving the labor medications, Lawson’s baby began to show signs of fetal distress.

In such instances, the medical standard of care requires an emergency cesarean section; however, there was a delay of almost seven hours. By the time the baby was born, he had suffered from brain damage as a result of lack of oxygen and blood flow to his brain.

In addition to the baby’s birth injury, the delay in the emergency c-section was also responsible for the mother’s death. The Illinois wrongful death complaint alleged that Lawson died as a result of an amniotic fluid embolism (AFE). An AFE is a somewhat rare, but very serious birth complication which involves the baby’s amniotic fluid entering the mother’s blood stream. AFE almost always results in cardiorespiratory collapse and death.

Specifically, the Illinois wrongful death claim alleged that the delay of almost seven hours directly contributed to Lawson’s death. It further alleged that the delay was avoidable; the obstetric surgeon, Dr. Cannon Vernon, had been paged to the operating room almost immediately after the nursing staff recognized the baby’s fetal distress. Therefore, the decedent’s estate contended that there should not have been a seven hours delay until the c-section was performed.

The Illinois wrongful death case was negotiated and settled for $14 million with the help of a mediator prior to trial. Ms. Lawson was the mother of nine children and was not married. The bulk of the settlement proceeds will be used to care for the child’s future needs.

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Illinois birth injury cases and Illinois wrongful death cases for more than 35 years in and around Chicago and Cook County, including Berwyn, Orland Park, Maywood and Niles.

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