Medical Malpractice and Personal Injury Law Blog

Parents of Child with Cerebral Palsy Awarded $14.5 Million in Birth Injury Lawsuit

Posted by Briggs Bedigian | Feb 03, 2017 | 0 Comments

In Western Pennsylvania, a federal jury has awarded a couple $14.5 million in a medical malpractice suit against the doctor who delivered their baby. In the lawsuit, they allege that the physician's misconduct caused brain damage, cerebral palsy, and other long-term conditions.

Justin Brinkley and Nicole Welker had their baby in July of 2012 and filed the complaint in July of 2014. During the trial, the parents described their experience when they went to Clearfield Hospital. They say that their doctor, Thomas Carnevale, was monitoring Welker's contractions and dilation; however, he failed to note their progression and therefore prescribed an unnecessary drug, Pitocin.

Pitocin is generally administered to quicken contractions. It is a hormone naturally produced by the body which causes the uterus to contract during and after labor. The parents argued that the administration of this drug caused hypoxia in the womb, a condition in which a fetus receives too little oxygen.

In a pretrial memo, the lawsuit states that, after the drug had been administered, the baby's heart rate slowed over the course of the next hour to 60 beats per minute. The case argued that, at this point, the doctor should have removed Welker from the drug, but it continued to be used for the remainder of the delivery.

Carnivale responded by saying that the treatment he had given Welker was correct and proper. Carnivale and the hospital asserted that the medical conditions that the baby developed were due to other factors such as a deficiencies in the placenta and a uterine condition in which the baby aspirates on its feces in the womb, called meconium aspiration.

The defendant also stated that, “although he had no independent memory of ordering that the Pitocin be stopped, he said it had always been his practice to stop the drug when the fetal heart rate slowed.”

Five minutes after the baby boy had been delivered, he had to be intubated. At his current age of four and a half, he cannot talk, sit up on his own, or walk. He has permanent neurological disabilities such as cerebral palsy and a seizure disorder and will require 24 hour care and extensive medical treatment for his entire life.

The jury decided that Carnevale was 60% responsible for the botched labor and that the hospital was 40% responsible. $1 million was awarded for the baby's future lost earning capacity, $2 million for pain and suffering noneconomic damages, and the rest for future medical expenses.

The attorney for the couple, Dominic Guerrini, said that they were satisfied with the ruling: “The jury properly determined that the healthcare providers responsible for causing this child's catastrophic injuries should also be responsible for paying the significant costs associated with his medical care going forward.”

If you have been harmed as a result of the negligence of a medical professional or an organization, you may be entitled to compensation. Attorneys Charles Gilman and Briggs Bedigian understand the physical and emotional distress of incorrect or incomplete medical treatment and will do everything they can to successfully litigate your case. Call their office today at (800) 529-6162 or contact them online.

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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