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Walkup Firm Obstetrical/Birth Injury Lawsuit Results

Excessive Pitocin Administration/HIE Injury— $23.2 Million Jury Verdict

In a birth injury jury trial brought for a child with spastic quadriplegia, the Walkup medical malpractice trial team received a $23.2 million jury verdict. The 2½-year-old plaintiff suffered cerebral palsy, quadriplegia and cognitive impairment when her mother’s doctor failed to recognize and act on the warning signs of fetal distress during her birth. As a result, a timely cesarean section was not performed. The child was deprived of oxygen for 28 minutes before an emergency C–section could be completed.

Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy resulted, and the child now has multiple health problems, including a permanent tracheotomy, g–tube, spastic cerebral palsy, cortical impairment and seizures. The jury award included $1.7 million for past health care expenses, $10 million for future health care expenses, $10 million for past and future pain, disability and emotional distress, and $1.5 million for loss of earning capacity.

Lack Of Oxygen Birth Injury – $6 Million Settlement

Our lawyers resolved this case for a badly damaged child who developed distress during labor at a point when no doctor was available to consult or do an emergency surgical delivery. The obstetrician left the hospital to run a personal errand and was not available to perform an emergency C-section.

The obstetrician believed labor was progressing adequately when he departed. After he left, contractions were too strong and too frequent, putting stress on the baby. The labor and delivery nurse did not summon another physician. By the time the baby was finally delivered, he had suffered permanent hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy.

Improper Vacuum Delivery — Confidential Settlement

Our birth injury team achieved a major confidential settlement on behalf of a 3-year-old Central Coast girl who sustained hypoxic brain injury and cerebral palsy as a result of labor and delivery negligence. Walkup lawyers proved that the mother’s obstetrician recognized that the baby’s head was in a position that made vaginal delivery dangerous.

An assistant who was less skilled and unfamiliar with the risks presented by the baby’s position attempted a vacuum-assisted delivery because the baby was demonstrating intermittent episodes of fetal distress. The assistant physician had no experience in delivery via vacuum for fetal distress.

Although the standard of care requires immediate delivery by cesarean section after failed vacuum, the assistant did not proceed to a C-section. The baby’s fetal heart rate crashed, but the hospital nurses did not invoke the “chain of command” to obtain proper response to the situation. The child was ultimately born severely depressed, with permanent and significant neurological damage.

Improperly Managed Labor — Cerebral Palsy/Brain Injury – $5 Million Settlement

Our medical negligence lawyers obtained a settlement having a present cash value of more than $5 million on behalf of a 6-year-old girl who sustained brain damage and cerebral palsy as a result of injuries during birth. The defendant in the case was a national health maintenance organization.

The obstetricians employed by the HMO failed to correctly analyze or appreciate signs of fetal distress as reflected on fetal monitoring tapes. Experts in obstetrics and perinatology testified that a timely cesarean section, occurring 45 minutes or more before the actual birth, would have prevented the child from sustaining anoxic brain damage and resulting cerebral palsy.

The defendant HMO claimed that the obstetrical care provided by its doctors was appropriate and within the standard of care. Attorneys for the HMO attempted to prove that the child’s cerebral palsy was not the result of oxygen deprivation during the labor process, but rather the result of an infection that the mother experienced one month before delivery.

The settlement amount, when combined with available benefits provided by private insurance and government programs, assured that the child’s medical and special needs would be met regardless of her life expectancy.

Failure To Recognize Fetal Distress — $5 Million Settlement

Walkup attorneys negotiated a cash and annuity settlement with a present cash value in excess of $5 million on behalf of an infant born with severe developmental delay, spastic quadriparesis and permanent neurological injuries after doctors and nursing staff failed to monitor the mother and deliver the baby quickly when fetal heart monitors indicated severe distress.

The 36-year-old mother’s pregnancy and delivery seemed to be progressing normally when, eight hours after being admitted to the hospital, she developed a high fever. The doctor on call administered antibiotics for suspected chorioamnionitis (an inflammation of the amniotic membranes) and said he would check back in an hour. Nearly three hours later, the fetal heart rate monitors indicated that the baby’s heart rate had dropped to 85 and 90 and remained there for about 10 minutes, prompting a frightened nurse to contact the doctor. Deceleration of the fetal heart rate is a common effect of chorioamnionitis.

The infant was born a half-hour later, by emergent vacuum extraction, with no heart rate and appearing blue, floppy and apneic. She was resuscitated through chest compressions and intubation. In the days following her birth, the infant exhibited general seizures with tremors in the lower and upper extremities. An MRI performed eight days after her birth revealed that the infant had severe hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy. The child will remain fully dependent for all of her care needs for her entire life.

She is not expected to develop beyond the level of a 1–month-old infant. Liability was based upon failure to aggressively monitor the mother and fetus post-administration of antibiotics and failure to deliver the baby when infection was first suspected.

Failure To Perform Timely Cesarean Section – $4.1 Million Settlement

In a case involving cerebral palsy, our attorneys obtained a binding arbitration award following a two-week arbitration having a present cash value of $4.1 million on behalf of a 3-year-old boy afflicted with multiple neurological injuries as a result of negligent delivery.

Attorneys from Walkup Melodia were able to prove that the infant endured a period of oxygen deprivation during birth when his mother’s uterus ruptured. The uterine rupture was due to an attending midwife’s failure to properly manage the mother while in labor. Walkup attorneys also proved that obstetrical nurses left the mother unattended prior to the rupture of her uterus and for that reason failed to appreciate ominous signs of the baby’s distress as reported on a fetal heart monitor.

Prior to the first day of arbitration, Kaiser had made no settlement offer.

Delayed Admittance To Hospital – Cerebral Palsy

The Walkup team obtained a mediated settlement on behalf of a child who suffered profound injuries when her mother’s uterus ruptured at the site of a previous myomectomy (surgery to remove a fibroid in the uterine wall). Two weeks prior to the baby’s emergent delivery, the child’s mother was hospitalized in preterm labor at Kaiser San Francisco. After being medicated and released, she was advised to observe strict bed rest and communicate with Kaiser’s Pre-Term Birth Prevention Project. At 10 p.m. the evening before delivery, the parents called the maternity department to report painful contractions.

Without determining the onset, frequency, characteristics or location of the mother’s pain, an on-duty advice nurse advised the mother to take an additional dose of her anti-contraction medication and call if her condition worsened. Eight hours later, the mother awoke in severe pain. Her husband called 911. She was taken to a local hospital where the child was delivered by emergency cesarean section at 32 weeks gestation. The claimants contended that Kaiser’s employees were negligent in failing to order the mother to the hospital at the time of the phone call.

The child was diagnosed with periventricular leukomalacia and later developed infantile spasms and cerebral palsy. The settlement was composed of both an initial cash payment and guaranteed future annuity payments to offset the cost of future medical, therapy, laboratory and attendant care.

Failure To Recognize Neonatal Hypoglycemia — $2.25 Million Settlement

Walkup attorneys obtained a mediated settlement of $2.25 million on behalf of a male infant who now suffers from blindness, developmental delay and cognitive deficits, and who also had his pancreas removed, after nursing staff failed to follow proper protocols when the infant showed signs of hypoglycemia.

The infant was born weighing 10 pounds, 7½ ounces, which should have triggered a nursing protocol requiring blood screening tests at one, two, four, six and eight hours of age. Any tests revealing low blood sugar levels required that a blood sample be drawn and sent for analysis. In this case, the infant’s six-hour test was conducted at seven hours of age and came back showing low blood sugar. However, the protocol requiring that blood be drawn and sent to the lab was not followed.

The infant’s parents were never told of the abnormal result or warned to look for signs of hypoglycemia. At 24 hours of age, the infant and his parents were discharged. On the second morning at home, his mother had a hard time rousing him, and he presented at urgent care lethargic, not nursing and with purple feet. He then suffered several seizures and was admitted to the hospital. Tests revealed that he had nesidioblastosis, a disease of the pancreas, resulting in profound, unremitting hypoglycemia.

An MRI revealed evidence of posterior cerebral artery infarction, consistent with the diagnosis of severe hypoglycemia. Ultimately, nearly all of the infant’s pancreas had to be removed. As a result of his cerebral injury, he was left blind, with developmental delay and cognitive deficiencies.

Uterine Rupture — Infant Death

Our medical malpractice lawyers resolved a birth injury case, in a confidential amount, on behalf of the parents of a 2-day-old infant who died after his mother’s uterus had ruptured during labor. The mother was admitted to the hospital with contractions, but was sent home several hours later because the nurses felt she was not progressing. Once home, she began to experience severe abdominal pain.

By the time doctors realized that the infant was outside the uterus in the abdominal cavity, an emergency cesarean section was unsuccessful in delivering the baby before it suffered severe compromise.

The child died two days later. Our attorneys demonstrated that the mother should never have been sent home from the hospital and that had she been monitored properly, her impending uterine rupture would have been recognized and a timely C-section would have been performed. Our clients’ claim sought damages for the wrongful death of their daughter as well as the mother’s personal injuries.

Birth Injury — Child Vs. Minnesota Family Doctor — $23.2 Million Jury Verdict

Walkup’s birth injury team obtained a $23.2 million jury verdict in a case involving cerebral palsy, quadriplegia and cognitive impairment in a 2½-year-old child whose family doctor failed to appreciate the warning signs of fetal distress during her birth in June 2007. As a result, a timely cesarean section was not performed. The child was deprived of oxygen for 28 minutes before an emergency C-section could be completed.

Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy resulted, and the child now has multiple health problems, including a permanent tracheotomy, g–tube, spastic cerebral palsy, cortical impairment and seizures. The jury award included $1.7 million for past health care expenses; $10 million for future health care expenses; $10 million for past and future pain, disability and emotional distress; and $1.5 million for loss of earning capacity.

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Reason #8

We Try Cases. While most cases settle, some cases need to be tried for our clients to recover full value. Insurance companies and major corporations will not pay full value of a case if they are not afraid of the plaintiff's lawyer in trial. If your lawyers cannot win in trial you have no negotiating power. We win in trial; judges and defense lawyers know that. Our team of lawyers have been honored as "Trial Lawyer of the Year" by the San Francisco Trial Lawyer's Association and the California Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates.

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