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Cathryn Rojas, a minor v USA

Dr. Fagel and his associates obtained a settlement of $5,300,000 on behalf of a child who suffers severe brain injury and developmental delays due to negligent delivery and resuscitation by hospital staff. The plaintiff’s mother, an active duty Marine stationed at Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, California, was seen twice at the Labor and Delivery unit at the base, checked by the staff and sent home. At 1:40 a.m. the next day, she returned to the L&D Unit with ruptured membranes. At about 3:00 a.m. the fetal monitor began showing decreased heart rate so Pitocin was started. An epidural was then placed at 5:40 a.m., which was followed by a further drop in fetal heart rate. The mother was then moved to the operating room for a Cesarean section and the baby was delivered in severe distress at about 6:15 a.m. Despite the infant plaintiff’s critical condition, hospital staff allowed a first year intern to attempt intubation. 20 minutes later, the tube was found to be misplaced, leading to complete left lung collapse. The baby then stopped breathing and had no heartbeat for ten minutes. The infant plaintiff was finally resuscitated, but suffered severe brain damage and now has developmental delays.

The defendant claimed that all care was within standard and that the c-section was performed in a timely manner. However, Dr. Fagel argued that the hospital staff was negligent for failing to recognize the non-assuring fetal monitor strip and not intervening to deliver the plaintiff earlier.

In addition, negligent resuscitation led to oxygen deprivation and further contributed to the plaintiff’s severe brain injury. The $5.3 million awarded will be used to cover all past and future medical costs and future loss of earnings.