On September 27, 2017, a Delaware medical malpractice jury returned its verdict in the amount of $3 million in favor of a now 9-year-old child against the obstetrician who delivered him, finding that the defendant OB was responsible for the child’s brachial plexus injury that occurred during his delivery when the OB applied too much force to his head and neck that caused injury to his right shoulder and arm that is a permanent impairment.
The Delaware medical malpractice birth injury lawsuit alleged that the defendant OB used too much force on the baby’s head and neck after his shoulders got stuck in his mother’s pelvis during the vaginal delivery and prevented his delivery. The allegedly excessive force applied by the defendant OB during delivery caused nerves emanating from the baby’s cervical spine at C5 and C6 to rupture.
The now 30-year-old mother, who had a history of gestational diabetes, had agreed to allow doctors at a Delaware hospital to induce her labor on April 9, 2008. The plaintiff’s birth injury lawsuit alleged that when the baby got stuck in the birth canal, the defendant OB pulled the baby’s head in a swift downward motion in an attempt to dislodge the baby’s body. Upon birth, the 8 pound 13 ounce baby’s right arm was limp at his side (he was otherwise healthy).
Three months after his birth, a pediatric neurologist diagnosed the infant with nerve damage: three of the nerves were overstretched and injured and two of the nerves were torn apart. Brachial plexus injuries suffered by newborns often improve over time, with many attaining a full recovery of use and function of the effected arm, but the more extensive and serious brachial plexus birth injuries may never get better or resolve fully.
In the case of the Delaware boy, he had two subsequent surgeries to attempt to increase the mobility in his right arm but he nonetheless was left with significant residual injuries that are permanent, including his right arm being four inches shorter than his left arm. At nine years old, the boy has difficulty zipping his pants, he cannot ride a bicycle due to his right wrist curling inwards that prevents him from safely steering, and he cannot fully engage in his favorite sport, soccer, because he cannot bring his right arm behind his head.
The medical malpractice insurer for the defendant obstetrician reportedly refused the plaintiff’s reasonable settlement offer in the Delaware medical malpractice case, offering nothing to settle the claim. The defendant OB reportedly has a $1 million medical malpractice policy that would be insufficient to pay the judgment (assuming the defendant does not file an appeal and the verdict stands). Pre-judgment interest increases the Delaware medical malpractice jury’s verdict to $4.5 million. The defendant’s medical malpractice insurer may find itself defending against a bad faith failure to settle claim filed by its insured.
If you or your baby suffered a birth injury during labor and/or delivery in Delaware or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a Delaware birth injury lawyer, or a birth injury lawyer in your state, who may investigate your birth injury claim for you and represent you and your child in a birth injury medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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