Sheldon Brenner and Teresa Maher Get Not Guilty Verdict in Obstetrical Malpractice Case in Cook County, IL

Tried 5/27/15 – 6/03/15

In a case tried May27 through June 3, 2015, Sheldon Brenner and Teresa Maher represented an obstetrician/gynecologist in a case involving the still birth of a baby girl on December 9, 2007, at Jackson Park Hospital in Chicago, Illinois. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant obstetrician did not timely respond to a call from a resident and a labor and delivery nurse advising him that his patient suffered a placental abruption and that there was fetal distress. The hospital did not have 24/7 in-house obstetrical coverage. The defendant doctor arrived at the hospital about thirty minutes after he was called but upon arrival found that the hospital had inexplicably failed to assemble the on-call surgical team necessary for him initiate an emergency C-section. It was not until 96 minutes after the patient was admitted that the baby was delivered and was stillborn. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant violated the standard of care by failing to meet the so-called thirty minute decision-to-incision rule that requires an emergency C-section to be performed within thirty minutes of the time it is called by the obstetrician. The defendant contended that he could not begin the C-section sooner than he did because he did not have the necessary personnel, including the scrub nurse and the circulating nurse. The plaintiffs, the mother and father of the child, sought damages under the Wrongful Death Act, Survival Act and Family Expense Act. The mother also sought damages for negligent infliction of emotional distress caused by the lengthy delay in initiating the C-section. The defense argued that the defendant’s arrival was as timely as possible; that he could not start the surgery without sufficient supporting personnel and that even if the C-section had commenced within thirty minutes, the outcome would have been the same because the baby expired within thirty minutes of the defendant being called. The defense presented expert testimony from a Ob/gyn that the fetal monitor began recording the maternal heart rate after the baby expired, which was before the defendant arrived at the hospital and that the testimony of the plaintiff’s Ob/gyn expert that the monitor recorded fetal heart tones up until shortly before the delivery was incorrect. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendant.