Birth Injury Claim Filed in South Carolina Federal Court

Ava Lawson | June 11th, 2014 | Posted in Cerebral Palsy Lawsuit News

Birth Injury Lawsuit According to allegations raised in a recently filed birth injury lawsuit, medical personnel at South Carolina’s Beaufort Memorial Hospital commmited medical malpractice which caused a minor child’s severe and permanent injuries. The plaintiffs filed their complaint in the District of South Carolina (Beaufort), in an effort to recoup compensation for their young daughter’s physical impairment, emotional anguish, pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life, which they says is the direct and proximate result of medical negligence.

Had the attending delivery room staff performed a C-section under the direction of Dr. Jocelyn Ajala in a timely manner when symptoms of fetal distress became apparent, argues the complaint, the minor child may have been born healthy and without injury.

Birth injury lawsuit details & allegations

Court documents, which were filed on April 22, 2014, claim that health care professionals at the Beaufort, South Carolina naval hospital failed to provide the mother plaintiff the applicable standard of care which would be expected of similar professionals with the same level of skill and training. The claimant’s obstetrician/gynecologist, Dr. Ajala, was negligent by failing to detect and respond to early signs of fetal distress, including “prolonged and deepening variable fetal decelerations,” and significant changes in fetal heart rate variability. Pitocin – a synthetic hormone that is often used to induce or augment contractions — was continuously administered during the plaintiff’s labor despite alarming signs of a decelerated fetal heart rate, contends the lawsuit.

The claimants, who are originally from North Carolina, were living in South Carolina and received care at the Beaufort-based naval hospital, which is owned and operated by the federal government. The “United States is the proper party-defendant as this is an action pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”) seeking money damages for personal injury caused by the negligent or wrongful acts and omissions of one or more federal government employees while acting within the scope of their federal employment,” states the birth injury malpractice claim.

Shortly after the minor child’s delivery in 2011, doctors noted mild bruising around the head and edematous eyelids. According to the complaint, approximately five months later, the mother became concerned when her daughter exhibited unusual or asymmetrical movements. A medical examination and MRI determined the child had suffered a heart attack in utero and now had a middle cerebral artery area of cystic encephalomalacia.

The minor child “had a small lacunar infarction in the right internal capsule, a periventricular leukomalacia, a punctuate hypointensity in the cerebellum, and a small 5mm lipoma in the suprasellar cistern,” states the lawsuit. Moreover, Dr. Jeffrey C. Hammer, M.D. lent his expert opinion that one or more breaches of care occurred in the treatment offered by the defendants, supporting allegations raised by the North Carolina couple.

As a purported result of the delayed Cesarean section and prolonged fetal distress, the minor will require costly and ongoing medical treatment and rehabilitation for the foreseeable future. As such, the plaintiffs have sustained and will continue to incur expenses for hospitalization, medical care and necessary treatments.

The suit is demanding compensation (both actual and consequential) plus any other relief that the court deems just and proper.

Asphyxia and fetal distress

Fetal distress, characterized by sudden or rapid changes in heart rate, can be a life or death situation if not addressed promptly. In many cases, heart rate decelerations show the fetus is starved of life-giving oxygen. Prolonged fetal asphyxia can cause permanent brain damage and lead to long-term physical and mental disabilities.  In some cases, a delayed C-section can give rise to claims of medical malpractice, if health care providers are found to have acted negligently in their decision to postpone the procedure.

Birth injury litigation is often complex in nature, which is why you need experienced and compassionate legal advocates. The firm of Balkin & Eisbrouch has been helping malpractice victims achieve justice for more than four decades and are happy to discuss your case during a no-charge consultation.


  1. RxList, Pitocin Side Effects Center http://www.rxlist.com/pitocin-side-effects-drug-center.htm

  2. Baby Center.com, What is Fetal Distress? http://www.babycenter.com.my/a1044907/fetal-distress

  3. The Clinics.com, Management of Fetal Distress http://www.obgyn.theclinics.com/article/S0889-8545(05)70073-5/abstract