The mother was pregnant with her first child. She began having contractions when she was full term (40 weeks) and was admitted to the hospital’s labor and delivery suite. Her labor continued through the first day and into a second day. After approximately thirty (30) hours of labor, the mother was taken to the delivery room where she was prepped for delivery. Although the mother was in active labor for over thirty (30) hours, the obstetrician had still not determined the size of the baby nor whether it could be easily delivered.
The mother was taken to the delivery room where a first-year resident doctor, with an attending doctor assisting, tried to deliver the baby. One of the shoulders of the baby got stuck while still inside the mother. This is a medical emergency called a “shoulder dystocia”. The doctors tried using measures to free the shoulder, but ended up pulling on the arm of the baby, which is medically incorrect. When the doctors incorrectly pulled on the baby, they injured his right arm, stretching the nerves that control his arm, causing what is known as a brachial plexus injury. This injury causes the baby to lose most of the use and feeling in the injured arm and causes a loss of function of his arm and hand.
Suit was filed in the Circuit Court of Monongalia County, West Virginia. Leading up to trial, it was discovered that the hospital had policies which discouraged Cesarean section deliveries (C-sections) and promoted vaginal delivery. On behalf of the baby, evidence was presented that the doctors should not have let the mother remain in active labor for so long without determining the size of the baby and considering delivery by Cesarean section. Experts for the hospital testified at trial that the mother had received the appropriate medical treatment. The jury returned a six (6) figure verdict for the baby.