Retrolental Fibroplasias, Blindness, Behavioral Dysfunction, Mental Retardation
Injuries: Retrolental Fibroplasias, Blindness, Behavioral Dysfunction, Mental Retardation
Facts and Claim of Liability:
Infant plaintiff was born on July 18, 2002 at Defendant Hospital Our Lady of Mercy Medical Center at 23 weeks gestation via vaginal delivery. He weighed 1 lb 1 oz at birth.
Prior to giving birth, plaintiff mother had a relatively uneventful pregnancy. She had no prenatal surgery, significant injuries or other illnesses; nor did she have high blood pressure, protein in her urine, or blood changes. She tested negative for Group B streptococcus (GBS) and urinary tract infection (UTI).
Three days before delivery, on July 15, plaintiff mother was at work when she began to experience extreme discomfort and pressure in her lower abdomen. At noon, she called defendant OB/GYN, who told her that she was fine, but to call back if, by the end of the day, the discomfort and pressure had not abated. Plaintiff mother called back seven hours later, and defendant OB/GYN told her to go to defendant hospital.
When plaintiff mother presented to defendant hospital at around 7:15 p.m., she was put in a room and examined. She was told that she was having vaginal contractions and that the baby was ready to be delivered. Plaintiff mother recalls that a fetal heart monitor was placed on her stomach, and that she was given steroids to accelerate the maturation of the baby’s lungs, but that nothing was given to her to stop her labor. Plaintiff mother also recalls that she stayed in this room in this way for three days.
On July 18 at around 8:00 a.m., plaintiff mother told a nurse who came in the room that she thought that her water had broken. The nurse examined her, and called for a doctor. Plaintiff mother was told that she was ready to deliver as the baby’s head was down. Plaintiff mother was taken to labor and delivery, and shortly thereafter, infant plaintiff was born.
Infant plaintiff’s Apgar scores were 5 and 7 at 1 and 5 minutes, respectively. However, he was having difficulty breathing, so he was intubated in the delivery room and then taken to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
It was later determined that infant plaintiff had had numerous perinatal complications, including sepsis. He ultimately developed retrolental fibroplasia, and was diagnosed as functionally blind. He was also diagnosed with behavioral dysfunction and mental retardation.
Currently, infant plaintiff attends a school for the blind and has a one-on-one paraprofessional who supervises him in school. He receives occupational, physical, speech, and feeding therapy in school for 30 minutes each, each day. Infant plaintiff’s impairments are permanent and will preclude him from gainful employment and the ability to live independently. He will always have to depend on others for his supervision, care and sustenance.
Fitzgerald & Fitzgerald filed suit in Bronx County Supreme Court, arguing that defendant doctors and defendant hospital departed from good and accepted medical practice in the care of infant plaintiff in failing to prevent preterm birth by maintaining magnesium sulfate (MgSO4) for a 24-week pregnancy, which ultimately led to severe and permanent injuries to infant plaintiff, and failing to prevent retinopathy of prematurity, which led to blindness in infant plaintiff. Ultimately, Fitzgerald & Fitzgerald settled with defendants for a total of $5,000,000.00, including payment for pain and suffering, loss of wages, non-medical damages and future medical damages.