May 2014 

Illinois: HPS Successfully Defends Birth Injury Case

Partners David Hall and Jacqueline Sharuzi successfully defended a suburban hospital and its labor and delivery nurses in a $36 million demand birth injury case in DuPage County. Plaintiff alleged the hospital-employed nurses and codefendant obstetrician failed to timely effect the delivery of the minor Plaintiff via Cesarean Section in the face of purportedly four hours of nonreassuring fetal heart tracings. Plaintiff contended the nonreassuring fetal heart tracings resulted from cord compression and the progressive development of an umbilical cord hematoma. Plaintiff argued the failure to deliver the minor Plaintiff in response to the allegedly nonreassuring tracings allowed the umbilical cord hematoma to progress to the point that it completely impaired blood flow to the fetus and resulted in catastrophic neurological injury. Despite Plaintiff’s contention that the fetal heart tracings were nonreassuring for up to four hours, it was uncontroverted that the minor Plaintiff did not suffer any type of neurological insult until the seventeen minutes preceding her delivery. Defendants argued that the fetal heart tracings, while containing nonreassuring elements over the course of the aforementioned four hour period, were on the whole reassuring as the tracings consistently returned to the normal baseline range and demonstrated moderate variability. The Defense further argued that the labor and delivery team appropriately moved to a C-Section when, in their view, the tracings became nonreassuring twenty-five minutes prior to delivery. Defendants maintained that the unpredictable, unpreventable and extremely rare umbilical cord hematoma developed acutely in the half-hour before delivery causing the nonreassuring tracings and eventually a terminal bradicardic event, which was the sole cause of the minor Plaintiff’s injuries. After approximately 8 hours of deliberation, the DuPage Jury returned a unanimous defense verdict in favor of the hospital, nurses and codefendant obstetrician.