Medical Malpractice and Personal Injury Law Blog

Ohio Couple Wins $14.5 Million After Doctor and Hospital Injure Son During Birth

Posted by Briggs Bedigian | Apr 13, 2017 | 0 Comments

The parents of a baby born with cerebral palsy and other medical complications received $14.5 million from the overseeing obstetrician and hospital. The verdict has been deemed the largest ever returned to plaintiffs in the Johnston, Ohio federal court.

Ohio Birth Injury Lawsuit

Ohio couple Nicole Welker and Justin Brinkley's lawsuit, claims that Penn Highlands Clearfield Hospital staff and attending obstetrician and gynecologist Thomas Carnevale made a number of grave mistakes during delivery that led to medical issues for their baby. Welker, the mother of now four year old Juistinian, claims their actions alleviated from the applicable standard of care on several occasions.

Those mistakes consisted of nurses not following obstetric procedures throughout the delivery, and Carnevale making the decision to prescribe a uterine stimulant drug, Pitocin, to augment her labor. She had been struggling through the delivery process prior to Carnevale's decision. In turn, Welker's delivery ended disastrously.

How It Affected The Baby

The drug had an adverse affect on the baby, as it caused severe contractions that restricted the supply of oxygen of the baby during its birth. According to the couple's lawsuit, Carnevale had ordered an inappropriately high dosage. They also contend that there were clear and coherent signs that little Juistinian was in distress. Over the next hour or so, the fetal heart rate steadily dropped, its slowest rate being 60 beats per hour. They argue that if the delivery would have been thoroughly monitored, they would have swiftly delivered the baby and taken Welker off of Pitocin for the rest of the delivery. But no action was taken by neither Carnevale nor the medical staff to alleviate these issues.

Towards the end of Welker's delivery, the baby's head was crowning. Usually when this occurs and there has been complications, the typical obstetrician would have safely delivered by vacuum or forceps. But in this mother's case, the delivery went on for another ten minutes before Carnevale made a episiotomy - a surgical cut to enlarge the vaginal opening - and delivered the baby. Shortly after, staff gave Welker and her partner the the heart-wrenching news that their son was suffering from “cerebral palsy and catastrophic disabilities.” To this day, Juistinian is not able to talk, walk or sit up.

The Birth Injury Litigation

In the pretrial phase of litigation, which was governed by Ohio medical malpractice laws, Carnevale argued that he had properly treated Welker, and that his decision to have her deliver vaginally was the quickest route of delivery. And although he had no “independent memory” of ordering that the Picotin be stopped, he claims he always does so when the fetal heart rate begins to slow. His main claim, however, was that the cerebral palsy was caused by insufficiencies in the placenta. The hospital backed his claims of proper treatment and outside causes for Juistinian's injuries.

The trial lasted for two weeks before the Pennsylvanian jury, whom had deliberated for over 40 hours, assigned 60% of liability to Carnevale and 40% of liability to the hospital.

If you or a loved one has been injured while in the care of a medical professional or facility, you may be entitled to compensation. Attorneys Charles Gilman and Briggs Bedigian are birth injury lawyers who will advocate for you while you focus on recovery. Call their office at (800) 529-6162 or contact them online. The firm handles cases in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.

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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