Illinois Jury Finds for Doctor in Newborn Brain Injury Case; Eckstein v. Gallo

In June 1991, Amanda Eckstein was born at Good Samaritan Hospital and delivered by defendant and obstetrician, Martin Gallo, M.D. In the plaintiff’s complaint, it was alleged that Dr. Gallo should have ordered a Cesarean section rather than a vaginal delivery with forceps. Ms. Eckstein alleged that there was evidence of her fetal distress on the fetal monitor strips, which should have prompted Dr. Gallo to order the C-section.

However, with the vaginal delivery, Amanda’s shoulder was hung up and caused shoulder dystocia, which lasted for approximately 5 minutes. Shoulder dystocia occurs in the delivery room when a child’s head is delivered, but the shoulder gets caught on the mother’s pelvis. Amanda was born without a heart rate and no respiratory rate for more than 5 minutes.

It was contended by Amanda that she had been without oxygen and suffered a permanent brachial plexus injury/Erb’s palsy to her left shoulder because of the doctor’s negligence. Erb’s palsy is nerve damage or resulting weakness to the baby’s upper group of the arm’s nerves.

Defendants asserted that a C-section was not indicated and that the shoulder dystocia was neither predictable nor preventable. It was also argued that even though Amanda had no heart rate or respiratory rate for more than 5 minutes that she did not sustain a hypoxic brain injury because CPR was started right after she was born. Furthermore, it was presented at trial that Amanda’s learning disabilities were inherited rather than caused by her birth trauma. At the trial, brain imaging studies were shown that proved that Amanda did not suffer hypoxic brain injury at her birth.

On the other hand, Amanda argued that the cord blood gases were normal only because there was cord compression and that her Apgar scores of 0-0-4 at 1, 5 and 10 minutes were proof that she did in fact suffer brain injury on delivery.

However, this DuPage County, Ill., jury found in favor of Dr. Gallo and his medical group. The demand to settle the case before trial was $2 million whereas in closing argument, the plaintiffs’ counsel asked the jury to return a verdict between $6.5 million and $9.8 million.

Amanda Eckstein v. Dr. Martin Gallo, et al., 03 L 66 (DuPage County).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling medical negligence cases, birth injury, Erb’s palsy cases and brachial plexus injury cases for individuals and families for more than 36 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Chicago (Beverly), Chicago (Bridgeport), Evanston, Wheaton, Naperville, Romeoville, Oak Lawn, Bedford Park, Chicago (Washington Park), LaGrange Park, Oakbrook Terrace, Forest Park and Crestwood, Ill.

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