Injuries: Cerebral Palsy, Significant Motor and Cognitive Delays
Facts and Claim of Liability:
Infant plaintiff was born on May 27, 1999 at Defendant Hospital Beth Israel Medical Center at 31 weeks gestation via emergency caesarian section. He weighed 3 lbs 1 oz at birth.
Prior to giving birth, plaintiff mother had an uneventful pregnancy. She had no prenatal surgery, significant injuries or other illnesses; nor did she have blood changes. She also tested negative for Group B streptococcus (GBS) and urinary tract infection (UTI), although she developed preeclampsia later on in her pregnancy.
About a week before delivery, on May 22, plaintiff mother began to experience pressure in her lower abdominal area. She also began to experience difficulty breathing. She presented to defendant hospital, but hospital staff, after examining her, told her everything was fine and that she could go home.
Two days later, on May 24, plaintiff mother continued to experience pressure in her lower abdominal area and difficulty breathing. She presented to Woodhull Medical Center’s emergency room, but again was told that everything was fine and that she should return home.
On May 26, plaintiff mother’s symptoms still had not abated. Her husband took her back to defendant hospital’s emergency room. A little after midnight they arrived, and plaintiff mother was admitted and examined. Hospital staff discovered that plaintiff mother’s blood pressure was over 200. She was immediately rushed to labor and delivery so that hospital staff could induce labor.
By 9:00 a.m., plaintiff mother still hadn’t delivered her baby. The fetal heart rate monitor, however, revealed that the baby was in distress. Plaintiff mother was rushed to the operating room for an emergency caesarian section.
A little over a half hour later, at 9:36 a.m., infant plaintiff was born. His Apgar scores were 9 and 9 at 1 and 5 minutes. He was intubated in the delivery room and subsequently rushed to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), where he was placed under artificial light for his jaundice. Two sonograms were done, but they did not reveal any evidence of intracranial bleeding.
About four days later, plaintiff mother was released from the hospital. However, hospital staff told her that infant plaintiff needed to remain behind for awhile longer because of his prematurity.
Finally, when infant plaintiff was about a month old, he was released from the hospital.
When infant plaintiff was about 3 months old, plaintiff mother noticed that infant plaintiff was crying a lot more than usual, and his body would periodically tense up. Plaintiff mother took him to a pediatrician, but the pediatrician told her that there was nothing to worry about. Infant plaintiff was diagnosed with a mild ear infection and sent home.
When infant plaintiff was about 6 months old, plaintiff mother discovered that infant plaintiff’s temperature was very high (about 102 degrees Fahrenheit). She took him to defendant hospital’s emergency room. Again, however, she was told that infant plaintiff just had an ear infection.
Days later, infant plaintiff’s fever had not subsided. Plaintiff mother also noticed that infant plaintiff’s body continued to periodically tense up. Plaintiff mother took him back to defendant hospital’s emergency room, where hospital staff discovered that his temperature was extremely high (104 degrees Fahrenheit). Ultimately, infant plaintiff was diagnosed with viral encephalitis, and transferred to the NICU.
Plaintiff mother was also told a little while later that infant plaintiff had been experiencing a series of seizures.
After about 2 weeks, infant plaintiff was released from the hospital. At 8 months old, he was diagnosed with infantile spasms.
Eventually, infant plaintiff was diagnosed with significant motor and cognitive delays. He was also diagnosed with cerebral palsy. He has undergone a number of orthopedic procedures, including bilateral hamstring and adductor and tendon releases. He has significant problems with his hands. He can feed himself with difficulty, and is completely unable to dress himself.
Fitzgerald & Fitzgerald filed suit in Queens County Supreme Court, arguing that defendant hospital departed from good and accepted medical practice in the care of infant plaintiff in failing to timely deliver infant plaintiff via caesarian section in light of his non-reassuring fetal heart rate, and that this resulted in severe and permanent injuries to infant plaintiff. Fitzgerald & Fitzgerald ultimately settled with defendant for a total of $3,000,000.00.