Mary Kay Scott and Amy L. Anderson represent defendant Obstetrician to a Not Guilty Verdict in a case involving a Posterior Shoulder Dystocia leading to Permanent Brachial Plexus injury during Delivery

Tried 6/5/14 – 6/18/14

From June 5 through June 18, 2014, Mary Kay Scott and Amy Anderson defended an ob/gyne and her practice group in DuPage County, IL, in a professional negligence claim for events that occurred July 14, 2000. The minor plaintiff, now almost 14 years of age and his mother, brought suit against the defendant physician and her corporation alleging that there was a failure to progress in labor overnight, that should have put the physician on notice to perform a C-section. The plaintiffs also alleged that the physician at the time of delivery pulled the baby’s left posterior shoulder over the sacral promontory by using the vacuum at a high station causing a permanent brachial plexus injury.

The mother had been seen by the defendant physician 3 times in prenatal care, and the mother had a known fibroid on the anterior uterus across from the sacral promontory. The mother was induced due to elevated blood pressure and borderline amniotic fluid on July 12, 2000, with Cervidil overnight. The next day, the partner of the defendant physician managed and oversaw the labor. The bag of waters broke at 5:00 p.m. on July 13, and the baby was delivered by the defendant physician at 8:43 a.m. on July 14, 2000. The defendant physician was present for the delivery starting at 8:10 a.m. on July 14, and at that time, the mother was complete and had been pushing. The head was 1/3 to ½ out with pushing and contractions, and due to decelerations of the babies’ heart rate, the doctor used a Mityvac vacuum to deliver the head of the child. At that point, an anterior shoulder dystocia was immediately appreciated, and after McRoberts and suprapubic pressure by the nurses and clockwise rotation of the infant by the doctor the baby’s right shoulder was delivered without injury. After delivery the weak left arm was noted and appropriate physicians were called in to evaluate the child.

The defense contended that the left posterior shoulder dystocia cannot be identified prior to delivery of the child, and occurred before the use of the vacuum to deliver the head, due to the anatomy of where the sacral promontory is, and the position of the head at time of the use of the vacuum. Further the maneuvers to deliver the head did not lead to the injury to the posterior shoulder. The sole cause of the injury to the left shoulder was the maternal forces of labor, as that was the only mechanism impacting the left posterior shoulder before delivery. The child had two surgeries, and it was the position of the defendants that the surgeries and PT/OT that the child had were all unrelated to the delivery undertaken by the defendant. The plaintiff had $90,392.25 in medical bills and asked for $2,590,392.25 from the jury. The jury deliberated for eight hours and then the next day the shotgun instruction was given and the verdict was returned forty minutes later.