On December 31, 2015, a Connecticut OB settled a medical malpractice wrongful death lawsuit filed against her, shortly before the fetal death trial was scheduled to begin before a jury. The plaintiffs (husband and wife) had sued the defendant OB for the wrongful death of their 22-week-old fetus (the plaintiffs were unaware that they were pregnant at the time of the alleged medical negligence).
In 2011, the woman was undergoing a procedure to remove an IUD (intrauterine birth control device) when the defendant OB negligently but unintentionally ruptured the fetal membrane. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendant OB was negligent because she failed to make sure that the woman was not pregnant before beginning the IUD removal procedure. As a result, the fetus was born alive but died two hours after birth.
The key issue in the Connecticut wrongful death lawsuit was whether Connecticut recognizes a cause of action for the alleged wrongful death of a nonviable fetus (i.e., whether a fetus that is not developed sufficiently to survive outside of the womb is a “person”). The issue appeared to be a novel one in Connecticut: a Connecticut judge allowed the plaintiffs’ fetal wrongful death claim to proceed, citing out-of-state court decisions that decided the issue both ways.
The terms of the settlement were not reported at the time the judge dismissed the medical malpractice wrongful death lawsuit on December 31, 2015.
The same Connecticut OB was named in a 2008 Connecticut medical malpractice case in which the plaintiffs alleged that she negligently waited too long to perform a Cesarean section delivery that resulted in the baby suffering cerebral palsy and permanent catastrophic injuries. In that case, during the delivery of twins, a healthy baby girl was delivered after which the undelivered baby boy suffered a low heart rate due to the umbilical cord being compressed between the mother’s pelvic bone and his skull. There was a delay of 25 minutes between the first sign of fetal distress and when the emergency Cesarean delivery was performed.
A six-person Connecticut medical malpractice jury determined that the defendant OB should have delivered the baby boy by emergency C-section delivery sooner and negligently delayed in delivering the baby boy. The Connecticut medical malpractice jury awarded $38.5 million to the plaintiffs after a seven-week trial ($30 million in economic damages, $7.5 million in non-economic damages, and $1 million to the baby’s mother for negligent infliction of emotional distress), which was one of the largest medical malpractice verdicts in Connecticut at that time. Because the jury found that the hospital co-defendant was not liable to the plaintiffs, the defendant OB was responsible for the entire amount of the jury’s verdict.
If you or a loved one suffered a birth injury in Connecticut or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a Connecticut birth injury lawyer, or a birth injury lawyer in your state, who may investigate your birth injury claim for you and represent you in a birth injury case, if appropriate.
Turn to us when you don’t know where to turn.