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Jury Awards $4.3 Million in Premature Birth Injury Lawsuit

pregnant woman cradles belly

A jury has granted a Georgia couple $4.3 million in damages through a premature birth injury lawsuit filed over the death of their infant son. In total, they received $3.5 million for the loss of their baby, $200,000 for the child’s pain and suffering, $600,000 for the mother’s pain and suffering and additional funds to pay medical bills and funeral expenses.

After deliberating for 2 1/2 hours, the jury found the baby’s deadly birth injury was caused by negligent medical treatment, as doctors failed to take proper care to ensure the mother didn’t go into premature labor.

The plaintiffs claim two obstetricians were responsible for the August 1, 2007 death of their infant son, after the mother went into labor at just 23 weeks and four days into her pregnancy. The baby weighed just over one pound at birth and died two days later because his undeveloped organs could not support him.

Premature birth injury lawsuit

On July 31, 2007, the mother called her doctor and told him she had experienced a dark vaginal discharge and that an ultrasound revealed she had a shortened cervix. The doctor told her to come into the hospital for an evaluation, which she did. According to the lawsuit, the mother and her baby were both in good health at that time. After the exam, the mother was admitted to the hospital and the lawsuit claims the defendants failed to recognize and manage “a developing situation” that could be potentially life-threatening to her unborn child.

The couple claims the obstetricians could have prevented the early labor by placing a cerclage into the mother’s cervix. This procedure is used to close the cervix during pregnancy to help prevent pregnancy loss or premature birth. Before pregnancy, the cervix is closed and tight, but it gradually softens and opens in preparation for birth. A weak or incompetent cervix may open too soon, causing the mother to lose the baby or give birth prematurely. The stitches are typically removed around the 37th week of pregnancy.

Evidence presented during the trial indicated that the mother previously underwent a surgical procedure that impacted her cervix and had suffered prior miscarriages. The plaintiffs’ attorneys argued that the doctors should have realized she needed special care and attention during her pregnancy, because of her medical history.

Doctors did order additional ultrasounds to measure the length of the mother’s cervix, but didn’t follow through when complications surfaced. An obstetrician from Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore served as an expert witness, testifying that doctors did the right thing by performing the ultrasound, but failed to see the proper course of treatment through.

Mother gives birth to healthy baby girl

Attorneys for the defendants argued that the doctors were not negligent by opting against performing a cerclage, claiming the procedure would not have helped. However, the plaintiffs cited the 2009 birth of the couple’s healthy baby girl as evidence it would have helped, as doctors took a number of precautionary steps, including performing a cerclage, progesterone injections and other steps.

  1. Mayo Clinic, Cervical Cerclage

  2. The Daily Report, Macon Jury Awards $4.3 Million in Death of Premature Baby 

  3. The Telegraph, Bibb County Jury Awards $4.3 Million to Parents After Baby’s Death