Iowa Verdict for Brain Injured Child

woman in labor wearing fetal heart monitor with stopwatch on red background

Ken Suggs, assisted by Adam Janet and local counsel Fred James, went to trial in late January, representing a 6-year-old child who was injured at birth because her doctor allowed her mother to be taken off continuous fetal monitoring and to be monitored intermittently instead.

The jury in Washington, Iowa, (population 22,000) returned a verdict for $18,126,600, representing roughly $7.3 million for future medical expenses, $2.3 million for future lost income, and $8.5 million for past and future pain and suffering, and loss of function of mind and body. Our client is intellectually almost normal, but suffers with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, including mobility issues and the inability to speak.

The local hospital settled its part of the case before trial. The remaining defendant was a family doctor.

The liability was taking mom off of continuous electronic fetal monitoring and beginning intermittent monitoring in the face of known risk factors: this was a big baby, she was overdue, mother’s labor was being induced with oral Cytotec and finally, the doctor ruptured the membrane surrounding the baby. After the membranes were ruptured, a series of variable decelerations of the baby’s heart beat developed, but the doctor, without coming to check on her patients gave a telephone order for the nurse to take the baby’s monitor off. Intermittent monitoring was then performed in almost a random fashion, instead of per protocol, which would have been every 15 minutes.

At 6 p.m., after a half hour of no monitoring at all, the nurse found a heart rate in the 70’s, called in an obstetrician, who ultimately performed a C-section. The baby was extremely acidotic, with a pH of 6.75, and was transferred to the University of Iowa for whole body cooling.

We presented well-qualified experts, who were able to explain to the jury why this was not an appropriate case for intermittent fetal monitoring. One was a family doctor from small town Nebraska, another was a maternal fetal specialist who is well-published and credentialed. In addition, we proved our damages through a pediatric neurologist, a neonatologist, a forensic economist and a life care planner.

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