$2 Million Award for Birth Defect Malpractice Victim

Medical malpractice lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm highlight a recent verdict awarded to the family of a seven-year-old girl now suffering from Erb’s palsy from a negligent delivery. The family received $2.1 million for the birthing malpractice.

Erb’s palsy, also known as brachial plexus injury, is an injury to the network of nerves in the spine, shoulder, arm, and hand. The injury may occur when the nerves are stretched or torn, and typically only one arm is affected. According to the Mayo Clinic, newborns can sustain this type of injury when there are problems during delivery, such as prolonged delivery. If an infant becomes stuck in the birth canal, the force of pulling the infant free can damage the nerves.

The mother in this case filed the malpractice lawsuit on behalf of her daughter, who is now seven years old, against the Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital, Bassett Healthcare, and certified nurse midwife Patricia Brown. The suit alleged that the mother did not receive adequate prenatal care from the hospital and that the midwife, Nurse Brown, directly caused the child’s Erb’s palsy by pulling too hard on her head during the delivery.

As a result of this trauma, the child will suffer from permanent nerve damage for the rest of her life, significantly limiting the mobility in her left arm. The suit was heard by a six-member jury in Ostego County’s Supreme Court in upper New York State. After a three-week trial, the jury awarded the little girl $2.1 million in damages.

In a similar case, the Michigan family of a child diagnosed with Erb’s palsy was recently awarded $2.25 million. The mother in this case had gestational diabetes, and about one week before delivery, the fetus was estimated to weigh eight pounds. Physicians recognized the potential of a high birth weight infant, but did not offer the mother a cesarean section. During the delivery, the infant’s shoulder became stuck in the birth canal. Despite numerous attempts to correct the situation, he remained stuck for upwards of four minutes.

He was born weighing more than 11 pounds, and suffered from extensive brain damage from the lack of oxygen to his brain during delivery. He was later diagnosed with Erb’s palsy and cerebral palsy (a group of motor conditions causing physical disability in development) as a result of the trauma.

The occurrence of Erb’s palsy during delivery is the result of the head and neck being pulled to one side while the shoulder passes through the birth canal. The condition causes either partial or total paralysis of one arm, along with lack of sensation. The body’s circulatory system may also fail to develop fully, leaving the victim unable to properly regulate temperature in that arm during colder conditions. Chronic pain may also be a part of that child’s life, along with stiff joints and permanent disability. Pain associated with Erb’s palsy is often described as a constant burning or crushing sensation.

A birthing malpractice lawsuit may be brought against a doctor or hospital if they failed to follow established procedures and adhere to the standard of care for deliveries. There are several tests to help diagnose the extent and severity of this type of nerve injury. An infant with Erb’s palsy may exhibit signs such as lack of muscle control or feeling in arm or hand, and no or only slight control of the wrist, hand, shoulder, or elbow.

Birth injury lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm encourage parents of an infant who suffered any type of birth injury to contact a skilled malpractice attorney. Significant compensation may be available for past and future medical care, lost wages, emotional distress, and decreased quality of life. Our attorneys ensure you will receive the best representation and largest settlement possible.