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Birth Injury Lawsuit Alleges Permanent Injuries

Brachial Plexus Injury

A mother from Ohio filed a brachial plexus injury lawsuit in mid-June 2015, alleging that the negligence of the defendant, a healthcare facility, directly caused her child’s birth injuries. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia at Huntington, because the defendant is located in that jurisdiction. The complaint was filed in federal court due to the diversity of citizenship of the parties. The plaintiff is demanding a jury trial for the recovery of past and future economic and non-economic damages.

Failure to perform an emergency C-section

On July 7, 2014, the mother was at 37 weeks gestation. At that time, she presented to the defendant healthcare facility upon going into labor. The plaintiff experienced a particularly prolonged labor. On July 9, she was diagnosed with respiratory distress, according to the brachial plexus injury lawsuit. It is unclear whether the complaint means the obstetrician diagnosed neonatal respiratory distress syndrome or maternal respiratory distress. It might be assumed that neonatal respiratory distress syndrome developed, as the lawsuit indicates the cause was prolonged shoulder dystocia.

Shoulder dystocia is a complication of labor and delivery in which the newborn’s shoulders are stuck within the birth canal after the head has emerged. Shoulder dystocia can cause severe complications for both mother and child; however, the condition can be managed by a competent obstetrics team. For example, cases of difficult labor and delivery such as the plaintiff’s often warrant an emergency cesarean section.

However, the plaintiff’s lawsuit alleges that the obstetrician was negligent in failing to call for an emergency C-section, and instead delivered the baby vaginally. Vaginal delivery with shoulder dystocia required multiple forceful manipulations of the baby. Allegedly, the obstetrician applied excessive force and traction, which resulted in the baby’s left clavicular fracture and brachial plexus injury, according to the lawsuit.

Brachial plexus injury is expected to be permanent

Immediately after the delivery, the newborn was described as “flaccid and apneic with Apgar scores of 1 at 1 minute and 6 at 5 and 10 minutes.” The child was transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for specialized treatment and close monitoring. The lawsuit claims the child’s brachial plexus injury is both severe and permanent, although it does not give specific examples of the child’s impairments.

The brachial plexus is a network of nerves that begins in the shoulder. These nerves control movement and sensation of the arm. Sometimes, the hand is also affected. Common symptoms of a brachial plexus injury include flopping of the affected arm, lack of movement in the affected arm, and absent reflexes on the affected side.

The mother is demanding that the defendant be held liable for the doctor’s allegedly negligent actions. She claims the obstetrician deviated from the standard of care when he applied excessive force and traction to the child. According to the complaint, the hospital should be held liable for the obstetrician’s alleged negligence under the doctrine of respondeat superior.

  1. Medline Plus, Brachial plexus injury in newborns,

  2. March of Dimes, Shoulder Dystocia,