September 2019 

Chicago: Clausing and Lalmalani secure defensive verdict in OB negligence case

Marilee Clausing, Managing Partner, and Sapna Lalmalani, Partner, secured a defense verdict in a case involving allegations that a neonatal death was caused by the medical negligence of the attending obstetrician and OB hospitalist, during the labor and delivery of a 30-year-old woman on July 16, 2013.

The plaintiff was admitted to a Chicago-area hospital for elective induction, and on admission, the fetal heart rate monitor revealed a Category II tracing. The Category II tracing persisted for approximately four hours, at which time the attending obstetrician and OB hospitalist proceeded with a Cesarean section (C-section). At delivery, that infant was found to have the umbilical cord tightly wrapped around his neck three times and once around the body. The infant had no heart rate four minutes after delivery and was pronounced dead shortly thereafter.

The plaintiff’s attorneys alleged the infant’s death was due to negligence on the part of the attending OB physician and the OB hospitalist. They argued the physicians were negligent in failing to call a C-section earlier and emergently in light of the persistent Category II tracing, and that had a C-section been called earlier, the infant would have survived.

Ms. Clausing and Ms. Lalmalani successfully argued that the physicians appropriately evaluated, monitored, and treated the plaintiff, that an emergent C-section was not warranted, and that the physicians timely ordered and performed the C-section. They further argued that the tightly wrapped cord – which was unforeseeable and unpredictable – resulted in decreased oxygen to the fetus for a period of a week or weeks prior to admission to the hospital on July 16, and resulted in injuries to multiple organs such that the infant was unable to transition from intrauterine to extrauterine life.

Plaintiff’s counsel asked the jury for $6 million during closing arguments. The jury deliberated for approximately 7 hours and returned a verdict in favor of all defendants.