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Medical Verdicts

Was infant’s death “no serious harm”?

May 2005 · Vol. 17, No. 5

<court>Palm Beach County (Fla) Circuit Court</court>

A gravida with a high-risk pregnancy presented to a hospital with preterm premature rupture of membranes (PPROM), but was discharged home without delivery of her child.

She returned a few days later still leaking amniotic fluid, but was not examined by the defendant physician. Though fetal monitor records had been lost by the time of trial, a nurse’s notes indicate a problematic fetal heart rate—but also state that the defendant was not informed of this development.

The child, born with brain damage, died 1 week after birth.

In suing, the plaintiff alleged negligence in the delayed delivery of her child.

The defendant, who did not have liability insurance, chose not to defend the liability suit, leading to a default judgment. She did defend the damages claim, however, arguing that the plaintiff did not suffer serious harm, as she already had another child.

  • The jury awarded the plaintiff $5 million for pain and suffering.

The cases in this column are selected by the editors of OBG Management from Medical Malpractice Verdicts, Settlements & Experts, with permission of the editor, Lewis Laska, of Nashville, Tenn ( While there are instances when the available information is incomplete, these cases represent the types of clinical situations that typically result in litigation.

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