Chicago Brachial Plexus Injury Lawsuit Receives $3.27 Million Verdict

A Cook County jury awarded $3,270,000 in a Chicago birth injury lawsuit. The verdict was against both the delivering obstetrician and her physicians’ group, both of which the jury found responsible for the brachial plexus injuries to the 11 lb. baby.

The infant’s 33 year-old mother had undergone two previous vaginal deliveries, and had experienced a relatively uneventful pregnancy. However, both of those two prior deliveries were of babies who weighed around 8 lbs., which is relatively large for a petite woman like the plaintiff’s mother. One of the claims made by the plaintiff’s attorneys in the Chicago birth injury lawsuit was that a cesarean section should have been recommended and performed due to the baby’s higher weight; he weighted 11 lbs. at birth.

The mother’s prenatal care was handled by Northwestern Memorial Physicians Group, which is affiliated with Chicago’s Northwestern Memorial Hospital. While her prenatal care was relatively uneventful, she did gain 58 lbs. during the course of her delivery, which was relatively high considering that the mother was only 5’2″. Again, plaintiff’s attorneys in her Illinois birth injury case alleged that there should have been indications that the baby was going to be large and potentially difficult to deliver vaginally.

In February 2002, the mother was admitted to the labor and delivery department at Northwestern Memorial Hospital under the care of the defendant obstetrician, Dr. Jennifer Friedman. At no point during the mother’s admission did Dr. Friedman inform her or her family of the risks of a vaginal delivery given the size of the unborn fetus and Maria’s history delivering large babies. After eight hours of labor, the baby’s shoulder became stuck on his mother’s pubic bone. The baby was just too large to pass through his mother’s birth canal.

Dr. Friedman responded by performing several different maneuvers in an attempt to free the baby from his mother’s hip. She first performed the McRoberts maneuver, which involves having the mother sharply flex her legs on her abdomen, while applying suprapubic pressure in an attempt to manually dislodge the baby’s shoulders. When that didn’t work, Dr. Friedman attempted a midline episiotomy and then finally a Woods corkscrew rotation maneuver, which involves a progressive rotation of the baby’s shoulder to deliver the child.

This whole process occurred in a matter of 60 to 80 seconds; however, upon delivery the baby was noted with cyanosis, i.e. blue-colored, and required resuscitation by a neonatal team of doctors. This emergency efforts increased his dangerous low Apgar scores of zero at one minute and two at five minutes to a relatively stable score of seven at ten minutes.

As a result of his Illinois birth injuries, the baby was diagnosed with a severe stretch injury of the right side brachial plexus nerves at C5-7 and T-1, which can be linked to his shoulder getting caught on his mother’s hip bone. In addition, he suffered a left muscle tear, which caused permanent strength and range of motion deficits in his right arm and resulted in his right arm being shorter than his left arm. By the time of the Cook County jury trial of this case, the baby boy had undergone three surgeries and years of physical therapy in an attempt to correct these Illinois birth injuries.

At the Illinois medical malpractice trial the plaintiff’s alleged that the standard of care required that a c-section delivery was recommended and ordered given the large size of the baby. However, the defendants countered that Dr. Friedman had appropriately and timely delivered the baby after encountering the obstetrical emergency of shoulder dystocia. The Chicago trial resulted in a jury verdict in favor of the plaintiff’s family of $3,270,000 against both defendants. The jury deliberated after the jury instructions were read to it by the judge for two days before arriving at this verdict.

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Chicago birth injury cases, including Illinois brachial plexus injuries for more than 35 years in and around Chicago, including surrounding areas such as Evanston, Vernon Hills, Highland Park and Evergreen Park.

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