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J.T., a minor v Kaiser

Dr. Fagel achieved a settlement of $4,700,000 on behalf of a child who suffers cerebral palsy and developmental delays after multiple errors by medical professional during the birth process and neonatal care resulted in severe oxygen deprivation. The mother arrived at the hospital for delivery and had experienced no prior complications. When the labor process began to stall, the obstetrician performed an artificial rupture of membranes (AROM). There was an immediate prolapse of the umbilical cord and fetal heart rate sharply dropped, so the OB called for a stat c-section, eventually delivering the plaintiff 34 minutes after the AROM. The baby was born with good Apgar scores, but vital signs quickly started to decrease. The pediatrician then sucked fluid from the infant’s airways and attempted to intubate the baby but failed. The anesthesiologist, who had not intubated a newborn for 18 years and was not certified by the Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP), then attempted to intubate the infant plaintiff but failed on four separate occasions. When the plaintiff was 19 minutes of age, an NRP certified respiratory therapist arrived and placed an ET tube. At 29 minutes of age, a chest x-ray showed air present in the pleural cavity surrounding the infant’s lungs, so the pediatrician called the nearby Children’s Hospital for assistance. 20 minutes later, the neonatologist from the Children’s Hospital arrived and began treatment, which improved the plaintiff’s condition. However, due to the extended period of hypoxia, the plaintiff now suffers irreversible brain damage.

The defendant claimed that the AROM was within standard of care and that the umbilical cord prolapse was quickly recognized and treated with a timely c-section. The defense also contended that all neonatal care was appropriate and not the cause of any injury to the plaintiff. Nevertheless, Dr. Fagel proved that the AROM was below standard of care and did indeed cause the prolapsed umbilical cord, which led to the heart decelerations. In addition, although the baby was born in reasonable condition, multiple acts of negligence during neonatal care caused hypoxia in the hour after birth, directly leading to the plaintiff’s permanent injuries.