Cerebral Palsy Lawsuit Ends With Jury Awarding $23.8 Million to Plaintiffs

Tracy Ray | December 22nd, 2012

When a baby suffers a birth injury such as cerebral palsy because of negligence or malpractice in the delivery room, the doctors or nurses responsible may be held liable. Across the U.S., juries have awarded multimillion dollar settlements to families whose children face permanent, lifelong disabilities because the medical professionals handling the birth did not provide proper care.

For example, a Massachusetts jury awarded $23.8 million to the family of a girl who suffered brain damage and was subsequently diagnosed with cerebral palsy after Pitocin and vacuum extraction were used during her birth.

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Lawsuit details mistakes that caused baby’s brain damage

According to the complaint, the mother was admitted to Massachusetts General Hospital to give birth. She was given Pitocin to induce labor. Pitocin can be risky because it can cause overly powerful contractions that have been linked to fetal hypoxia (lack of oxygen to the baby’s brain). Therefore, when Pitocin is used, it is important to carefully monitor the fetus for signs of hypoxia or fetal distress. However, in this case, despite the risks, when labor failed to progress, nurses kept giving the mother higher and higher doses of Pitocin. The mother continued to labor all day with little progress.

The plaintiffs’ attorney charges that when labor failed to progress, the doctor should have ordered a C-section. Instead, the doctor used vacuum extraction to delivery the baby without informing the parents about the risk involved. When the baby was finally born, she had bruises on her head and bleeding around her brain. She was later diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

Dangers of vacuum extraction

Vacuum extraction is a risky procedure in which a suction cup is attached to the baby’s head and strong suction applied to pull him or her through the birth canal. The Journal of Pediatric Child Health published a study in 1996 which found an increased risk of bleeding in blain in babies delivered with vacuum extraction, and concluded that the procedure is risky. Two years later, in 1998, the FDA issued a public safety warning about vacuum extraction after receiving reports of 12 deaths and nine serious injuries from the procedure.

The defendants claimed that they had not done anything wrong and had worked hard in a difficult and complex birth situation.

But the jury sided with the plaintiffs, deliberating for only four hours before returning a verdict in favor of the plaintiffs and awarding them $12.9 million in damages and $10.9 million in interest.

Call Balkin & Eisbrouch for a free birth injury consultation

Having a child with cerebral palsy or other permanent disability can be overwhelming, both emotionally and financially. Parents worry about how to provide the extensive medical care and lifelong treatments and therapies their child may need. If the child’s disability was caused by mistakes made by the medical team during labor or delivery, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit and obtain compensation for your child’s injuries and medical expenses.

Call Balkin & Eisbrouch for a free evaluation of your case. Our expert attorneys have more than four decades of experience fighting for the rights of birth injury and malpractice victims. Let us help you pursue justice for your child. There is no cost unless we win you a settlement.