Medical Malpractice and Personal Injury Law Blog

Jury Awards $73.2 Million in Birth Injury Case Involving Assisted Delivery

Posted by Briggs Bedigian | Sep 07, 2018 | 0 Comments

Lorenza Botello gave birth to her son Jonathan at the Pecos Valley of New Mexico Medical Center under the care of Dr. Jerry McLaughlin. The delivery did not go as planned and the baby was left with permanent damage to his brain and other nerve damage. The family brought a claim of medical malpractice in the Santa Fe County District Court against the doctor and his employer. The case took several years to be completed and Dr. McLaughlin actually passed away before the conclusion of the process. The jury found the defendants to have demonstrated negligence in the baby's delivery and awarded a massive $73.2 million to the plaintiffs.

Baby Delivery

The infant was determined to weigh 11.5 pounds at the time of the delivery. The doctor struggled to remove the baby from the birth canal and used a vacuum aid for extracting him. During this time it is believed that Jonathan went approximately 10 minutes without sufficient oxygen. Attorneys for the plaintiff felt the jury was “angry” and that the award is likely to serve as a warning to medical providers across the state that such acts of negligent medical care may lead to costly awards for damages.

Negligent Action

Botello's pregnancy was deemed as somewhat risky because she was 36 years old, had diabetes, and the baby was an “unusually large” sized infant. The claim stated that Dr. McLaughlin should have ordered more ongoing ultrasound examinations. These would have improved his ability to track and monitor the status of the baby. McLaughlin apparently had underestimated the weight of the baby as being about eight pounds. The doctor was alleged to also have failed to review the notes from an examination Botello underwent at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center that indicated the baby's wide shoulders were unlikely to allow for standard delivery.

Vacuum Extraction

A vacuum device was used to help extract the baby by pulling on his head; however, this process resulted in damage to critical nerves and the brain. These vacuum devices are known to also create possible injuries to the mother. The boy has since been unable to use his right arm and it is likely that he will require life-long assistance in order to complete basic daily tasks. A plaintiff attorney explained that the verdict will allow Jonathan the opportunity to improve his quality of life.

Assisted Delivery

An “assisted delivery” is one that involves using medical tools to ease the baby through the birth canal. This method is considered to be an option instead of delivery by Caesarean section. A doctor may resort to an assisted delivery when unexpected situations arise. Often an assisted delivery is conducted in response to indications that the baby is receiving insufficient oxygen or is struggling to maintain proper blood flow. One possible means of assisted delivery involves using forceps, which are tools that are applied to the baby's body to better navigate through the birth canal. Assisted deliveries are generally considered to be of higher risk.

About the Author

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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