Virginia Family Awarded $2.3 Million in Birth Injury Compensation

Shay Morrigan | June 4th, 2013 | Posted in Cerebral Palsy Lawsuit News, Recent Settlements

 Birth Injury Compensation The lifetime cost of caring for a child with a significant birth injury can be staggering—as much as $1 million or more in some cases. That’s why it can be extremely helpful for parents to seek birth injury compensation in a lawsuit if they believe medical negligence was involved.

A Virginia mother welcomed her new baby daughter in November 2006. The child suffered from shoulder dystocia during delivery, however, and was later diagnosed with Erb’s palsy. The mother filed a claim on behalf of herself and her child, and in December 2010 was awarded a significant verdict by the jurors who heard the case.

Mother seeks damages for child’s Erb’s palsy

In this Virginia lawsuit, Rhonda Bertholf, a nurse-midwife, together with the medical practice of Dr. Richard M. Valentine Jr., were named as defendants. The plaintiff claimed that the healthcare professionals should be held liable for medical malpractice, and that they failed to react appropriately to her baby’s shoulder dystocia.

Sometimes if a baby is overly large, or is positioned incorrectly in the birth canal, the shoulder can become lodged under the mother’s pubic bone. The baby essentially becomes stuck, and doctors must try certain procedures to allow the infant to pass safely through the birth canal. Incorrect maneuvers that use excessive force or too much vacuum extraction, can result in an injury to the “brachial plexus”— the bundle of nerves in the shoulder that controls the arm and hand.

When this type of injury occurs, the child may end up unable to move the arm and hand. If the arm is paralyzed as a result, the child is diagnosed with Erb’s palsy, and must have continued medical care to manage the disability.

Jury awards $2.3 million in compensation

Witnesses in this case testified that the midwife pulled the newborn’s head and arms to counter the dystocia. The jury determined that this action caused the injury, and agreed to grant the plaintiffs a jury award. The mother received $60,000 in medical damages, and the child received a $2.3 million verdict.

Another family  was granted millions in birth injury compensation in January 2013. Also a victim of a brachial plexus injury, the child suffered shoulder dystocia during delivery. Allegedly as a result of medical negligence, the situation was improperly managed, and the child was born without the use of her right arm. She was later diagnosed with Erb’s palsy, and so far, has had to endure two corrective surgeries, with doctors expecting she will have to go through more. In this case, the jury awarded the family damages totaling $500,000, and also awarded a verdict of $5.5 million to the child.

Parents can talk to a lawyer about legal options

Parents of children who sustain a brachial plexus injury, brain damage or any other kind of birth injury may consider speaking to a lawyer at Balkin & Eisbrouch. An experienced professional can help guide families through the difficult process of bringing claims against a doctor, nurse, and/or hospital. Medical professionals are expected to provide a certain standard of care during the delivery of a child, and though mistakes can happen, families shouldn’t have to pay the entire price. A birth injury settlement or jury award can help parents manage the day-to-day care of a child with special needs. Call our offices today for a free consultation.

National Institutes of Health, Brachial Plexus Injury