Brachial Plexus Injury Caused by “Grossly Negligent” Medical Care, Claims Mother

Stephanie Reid | April 1st, 2016 | Posted in Cerebral Palsy Lawsuit News

CourthouseIn December 2015, a West Virginia woman filed a medical malpractice lawsuit on behalf of her minor child, who was severely injured during the childbirth process. The complaint, which was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, names the United States of America as the sole defendant, due to the legal doctrine of “vicarious liability” which imparts liability upon one’s employer in the event a negligent act is committed within the scope of a worker’s scope of employment. 

More specifically, the woman was treated at the Family Health Care Center, which is under the jurisdiction and control of the United States, along with its employees, obstetricians and nurse midwives. Citing these employees as “agents” of the United States, the complaint goes on to detail the woman’s allegedly unmanaged childbirth experience, resulting in lifelong neurological and orthopedic damage to her baby. 

Shoulder dystocia complicates delivery

On or about December 13, 2014, the plaintiff presented to the Family Health Care Center in apparent labor. While the details of the complaint are sparse with regard to the plaintiff’s prenatal care, the complaint provides a glimpse into the series of events that took place in the moments leading up to the delivery of plaintiff’s baby. During the birthing process, the plaintiff experienced notable difficulty, which would typically result nursing staff instructing the patient to change positions in order to open the pelvic area as much as possible. Here, the complaint alleges that the staff tasked with the plaintiff’s care did not engage in any maneuvering or positional changes that would typically assist a laboring woman in augmenting the birthing process. 

As a result of the plaintiff’s difficult birth process, the child’s shoulder became stuck behind the plaintiff’s pelvic bone — a situation known as “shoulder dystocia.” Generally, there are a number of ways to help laboring women whose babies are experiencing shoulder dystocia, including: 

  • Alternative birthing positions, including a “semi-recumbant” position
  • Engage in the “McRoberts maneuver,” which involves the mother flexing her legs tightly against the abdomen
  • Applying external pressure to maneuver the baby
  • Ordering an emergency Caesarian section 

Unfortunately, the plaintiff alleges that her nursing staff did not engage in sufficient interventions to prevent shoulder dystocia. Allegedly, this breach caused the baby to suffer from a brachial plexus injury, which can create significant difficulties for the child. 

When a child suffers from a brachial plexus injury as a result of shoulder dystocia during birth, he or she may have difficulty using the shoulder or arm. In the most severe cases, the injury can cause permanent paralysis, if the nerves have been completely torn away from the spinal cord. 

As a result of her experience, and in response to her child’s substantial injuries, the plaintiff in this case is seeking reimbursement for medical expenses, lost wages and future earnings. As well, she is seeking compensation for her child’s pain and suffering, humiliation, inconvenience and loss of enjoyment. 

Balkin & Eisbrouch – dedicated birth injury lawyers 

If you were recently involved in a traumatic birth experience and would like to discuss your options with a compassionate team of birth injury attorneys, we invite you to contact Balkin & Eisbrouch, LLC at 1-855-60-BIRTH to schedule a complimentary case review.


  1. Mayoclinic.org, Overview - Brachial Plexus injury, http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/brachial-plexus-injury/home/ovc-20127336

  2. Midwifethinking.org, Shoulder dystocia - the real story, http://midwifethinking.com/2010/12/03/shoulder-dystocia-the-real-story/