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Almost 3 Decades To Recover Damages In Birth Injury

Many people who are injured by medical negligence are surprised to find out how long a civil trial can take. Most medical malpractice lawsuits are settled before going to trial but a number of important cases go to trial because the insurance company doesn’t want to pay up for their doctor’s mistakes. 

It can take up to 3 years or more before a medical malpractice case goes to trial. However, for one family in Canada, it took almost 30 years after their baby was brain damaged by negligent hospital staff before the hospital paid out more than $8 million to the family. 

Negligent Birth Care in 1984

On January 10, 1984, Atalyah Gutbir, a recent Canadian immigrant from Israel, gave birth to her daughter Zmora. When Zmora emerged from the womb, she was blue and silent. The infant had been deprived of oxygen for more than 3 hours and was in critical condition, suffering permanent brain damage. 

In 2010, the case finally went before a jury. The jury ruled that Zmora’s condition was caused by the hospital staff failure to monitor the baby’s vital signs during labor. According to the court, detection would have allowed for an earlier intervention, which could have prevented permanent brain damage for the child. 

The hospital where the injury occurred, Toronto General, filed an appeal. However, the court dismissed the appeal and was ordered to pay the family $5.5 million in compensation and another $1.25 million to the parents. The compensation is for the care needed to provide for the child for the rest of her life. 

Birth Injury and Medical Malpractice

Lack of oxygen at birth can lead to serious medical conditions.  Anoxia and hypoxia can lead to cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and brain damage. There are a number of risks and warning signs of possible hypoxia, including: 

  • Prolonged labor
  • A baby in breech position
  • Problems with the umbilical cord, including a wrapped umbilical cord, and pressure on the cord, and prolapsed cord
  • Fetal Distress, or an unusually slow or fast heart rate of the baby
  • Shoulder dystocia
  • Low blood pressure in the mother
  • Infection
  • Heart disease in the mother or baby
  • Placenta issues, like early detachment (Placental abruption)
  • Preeclampsia or eclampsia

Some parents may not fully be aware of the risk of lack of oxygen during birth and doctors and hospitals may try and downplay the risks. Mothers who are under sedation, drugs, or simply worn out after a long labor may not be fully aware of what is going on during a problem with the birth. 

Some possible designs of hypoxia which could be due to negligence include an emergency C-section, use of a ventilator or oxygen support, or sending the infant to intensive care. 

Malpractice and Birth Injury Lawyers

A doctor’s negligence during your child’s birth can have permanent damage. If your baby suffered hypoxia and now faces serious consequences as a result of a doctor’s negligence during birth, contact our experienced attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian. To discuss your malpractice injury with a member of our legal team, fill out an online case evaluation form or call (800) 529-6162 today. 

About the Author

Briggs Bedigian
Briggs Bedigian

H. Briggs Bedigian (“Briggs”) is a founding partner of Gilman & Bedigian, LLC.  Prior to forming Gilman & Bedigian, LLC, Briggs was a partner at Wais, Vogelstein and Bedigian, LLC, where he was the head of the firm’s litigation practice.  Briggs’ legal practice is focused on representing clients involved in medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. 


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