After a four-day trial, Rich Nagle and Heather Zaug obtained a defense verdict for the defendants.
During the mother plaintiff’s delivery on January 22, 2010, the defendant obstetrician encountered a shoulder dystocia. In response, the defendant obstetrician performed various delivery maneuvers in an effort to safely deliver the infant plaintiff including gentle downward traction, the McRobert’s position, supra pubic pressure, the Wood’s screw, and delivery of the posterior arm. Although the defendant obstetrician successfully delivered the infant plaintiff, she suffered a permanent brachial plexus injury at the C5, C6, and C7 levels including a total avulsion of the nerve root at the C6 level and a partial avulsion at the C7 level. Following her birth, the infant plaintiff underwent surgery for her brachial plexus injury.
Plaintiffs filed their lawsuit in the Circuit Court for the County of Henrico alleging that the defendant obstetrician breached the standard of care by failing to offer the mother plaintiff a cesarean section and applying excessive traction to the infant plaintiff’s head during her delivery. Plaintiffs also alleged that the defendant corporation was liable for the conduct of the defendant obstetrician. The defendants denied the allegations and the case proceeded to trial on August 12, 2013.
During the trial, plaintiffs’ experts testified that the defendant obstetrician negligently failed to offer the mother plaintiff a cesarean section despite her risk for encountering a shoulder dystocia and negligently handled her delivery by pulling on the infant plaintiff’s head causing a permanent brachial plexus injury. The experts testified that the only way a permanent brachial plexus injury involving nerve root avulsions, like the one the infant plaintiff suffered, can occur is if the delivering obstetrician applies excessive traction to the infant plaintiff’s head.
Defendants’ experts testified that the mother plaintiff was not at increased risk for encountering a shoulder dystocia. Therefore, the defendant obstetrician appropriately did not offer her a cesarean section. Regarding the delivery, the defendant obstetrician denied applying excessive traction to the infant plaintiff’s head and testified that she only applied gentle downward traction. Defendants’ experts testified that if the defendant obstetrician only applied gentle downward traction, she met the standard of care. Defendants’ experts further testified that if the defendant obstetrician only applied gentle downward traction, the maternal expulsive forces of labor (the combination of maternal pushing and maternal contractions)—not excessive traction—caused the infant plaintiff’s brachial plexus injury.
After a four-day trial and deliberation by the jury for three hours, the jury returned a verdict for the defendants.