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Medical Verdicts

Fetal injury from repeat vaginal delivery

July 2005 · Vol. 17, No. 7
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<court>Undisclosed North Carolina venue</court>

A woman who had already delivered a child with shoulder dystocia that resulted in Erb’s palsy was pregnant for a second time and feared it would happen again. The mother expressed her fear to her obstetrician and inquired about a cesarean section. All prenatal assessments for fetal size indicated that the infant was large.

When the mother presented for delivery, a vaginal delivery was attempted. Maneuvers to relieve resulting shoulder dystocia were ineffective. A cesarean incision was then made; cephalic replacement was unsuccessful.

The infant was delivered with a broken neck, broken clavicle, and broken arm. The child also had massive brain damage and cortical blindness as a result of brain hypoxia. The child is quadriplegic and dependent on a ventilator and gastrostomy tube.

  • The parties settled for $13.5 million after a fourth formal mediation.

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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