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A. L., a minor v Anonymous Medical Center

Dr. Fagel obtained a settlement of $2,875,000 on behalf of a child who suffers developmental delays with speech and motor problems as a result of injuries sustained during the birth process. The mother was admitted to the defendant medical center for induction of labor one week after her expected delivery date. Early the next afternoon, the fetal heart monitor began to show decelerations, but nurses did not notify the OB and continued the Pitocin. At 3:12 p.m. the fetal monitor became non-reassuring and the obstetrician was called in. After the OB left, at 3:22 p.m., there was a severe prolonged deceleration, but he was not notified right away and did not return until 3:45 p.m. At 3:58 p.m., after multiple attempts at vaginal delivery failed, the mother was transferred to the operating room for a C-section. The baby was delivered at 4:12 p.m. with low vital signs and its umbilical cord wrapped tightly around its neck. The minor plaintiff was eventually resuscitated but has permanent brain damage from prolonged oxygen deprivation.

The defense contended that the labor and delivery nurses properly called the OB when required and did not delay the delivery in any way. However, Dr. Fagel displayed that the nurses failed to recognize the severity of the abnormal fetal heart rate, which required earlier notification of the obstetrician. Furthermore, when the OB finally arrived, the patient should have immediately been taken to the operating room for a C-section. Valuable time was wasted during the failed attempts to vaginally deliver the baby, and the delay was a significant contributor to the plaintiff’s injuries.