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N.P., a minor v Anonymous Physician/Hospital

Dr. Fagel achieved a settlement of $2,500,000 on behalf of a child who now suffers cerebral palsy and developmental delays as a result of oxygen deprivation during the birth process. The pregnancy and labor process progressed as normal until the baby had difficulty passing through the birth canal. The fetal heart monitor then began to show fetal distress as the baby started losing oxygen. After multiple failed attempts to deliver the baby with a vacuum assist, the obstetrician finally took the mother to the operating room and delivered the minor plaintiff by emergency C-section. The baby was resuscitated and transferred to the intensive care unit, where there were complications with edema, seizures and possible bleeding. At 6 months of age, the child was noted to be slow in development and was then diagnosed with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy. Later tests revealed hypoxic damage to the child’s basal ganglia and cerebellum. Currently, the child has difficulty eating, communicating and has very delayed progression of motor skills.

The defendants contended that all care was within standard and that delivery by Cesarean section was accomplished relatively soon after signs of fetal distress became evident. On the other hand, Dr. Fagel argued that the C-section was not accomplished within a reasonable amount of time and resulted in the child’s hypoxia and consequent injuries. The failed attempts at vacuum delivery delayed the delivery process and significantly contributed to the child’s oxygen deprivation. Once the baby had trouble progressing through the birth canal, the obstetrician should have immediately prepped the mother for a C-section to ensure delivery of the baby as soon as possible.