Not guilty after shoulder dystocia

Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois
Counsel: Anne Scrivner Kuban and Elizabeth Jaci
Demand: $ 1.5 million
Asked: $ 3.5- $4 million
Outcome: Not Guilty

Shortly after 4:30 a.m. on April 17, 1998 Plaintiff presented to the hospital with complaints of lower abdominal pain and fluid leakage. After ambulating for 1 hour and being monitored, Plaintiff was admitted to Labor & Delivery. At 1:30 p.m., the attending OB on call was notified to come to the hospital for delivery. Meconium had been present when Plaintiff’s bag of water had ruptured shortly after noon. Due to the meconium, the Special Care Nursery had been assembled for the delivery. The attending OB was at bedside by 2:20 p.m. The physician noted an anterior lip which he pushed back and the Labor & Delivery nurse documented that fundal pressure was utilized. After the head was delivered, McRobert’s and supra pubic pressure was used. The infant was delivered at 2:25 p.m.

The infant weighed 8.7 lbs. and was 21″ long. After delivery, it was noted that he was exhibiting hypotonia of the left arm which lead to a subsequent diagnosis of Erb’s palsy. When the physician informed Plaintiff about the baby’s status, she told the doctor that the same thing had happened during her daughter’s delivery (1993)but that it had resolved spontaneously. There was no indication in any of Plaintiff’s prenatal records or delivery records that she had shared this information with anyone before her son’s delivery.

Plaintiff contended that excessive traction and force had been used during the delivery which caused the Erb’s palsy. The attending physician denied that a shoulder dystocia had been encountered and that it was his custom and practice to use Mc Roberts and supra pubic pressure in all deliveries. The defense further contended that it was the natural forces of labor as opposed to any excessive traction or force that caused the Erb’s palsy.