Delay in cesarean and resuscitation blamed for cerebral palsy

May 21, 2008

A 39-year-old Pennsylvania woman was admitted at term for delivery in 1997. She was managed by a certified nurse midwife and obstetrician and after 8 hours of labor the infant was delivered by cesarean section. He had no heart rate, and was pale and limp. Despite resuscitation, when a neonatologist arrived 11 minutes later, the infant was subsequently diagnosed with cerebral palsy with global developmental delay and quadriplegia.

A 39-year-old Pennsylvania woman was admitted at term for delivery in 1997. She was managed by a certified nurse midwife and obstetrician and after 8 hours of labor the infant was delivered by cesarean section. He had no heart rate, and was pale and limp. Despite resuscitation, when a neonatologist arrived 11 minutes later, the infant was subsequently diagnosed with cerebral palsy with global developmental delay and quadriplegia.

A lawsuit filed against those involved with the delivery claimed that the labor was allowed to continue despite significant abnormalities in the FHR, that a C/S should have been performed earlier, and that it was negligent not to have a specialist present at a delivery in which it took 11 minutes for a neonatologist to resuscitate the infant. Just prior to the beginning of the trial, the defendants all conceded liability and the case went ahead on the issue of damages. A jury awarded $57.6 million on behalf of the child. The parties had reached a high/low agreement prior to the verdict with an agreement of $10 million if it was a defense verdict and $23 million if the verdict was for the plaintiff.