Earlier this month, a US district court judge in Texas ordered the federal
government to pay $6.5 million to a Michigan couple whose baby was born
with severe brain damage on a US Army base. According to a
story in the Killeen Daily Herald, the baby was delivered by induced birth on
September 12, 2008, and it was immediately clear that there was something
wrong. He was later diagnosed with cerebral palsy, which is usually caused
by a lack of oxygen to the brain during birth.
The case marks a rare instance of a plaintiff successfully suing a government
entity. Since the birth took place in a military hospital, the federal
government can be held liable for any medical malpractice that occurred.
The judge ruled that the government was negligent in not performing a
cesarean section after their excessive use of the drug oxytocin overstimulated
the woman’s contractions and caused severe distress in the baby.
The settlement will help the couple pay the significant medical costs
associated with raising their son, who is now five years old. He cannot
walk and must be fed through a feeding tube.
Cerebral Palsy Is Often Caused by Medical Negligence During Childbirth
Once she arrived home from the hospital, the mother immediately began researching
brain damage and
cerebral palsy. She discovered that the disease is often caused by
birth trauma rather than genetics. Cerebral palsy is actually an umbrella term for
a large number of disorders affecting a baby’s brain function and
body movement. The
risk factor for the disease increases significantly when the baby’s brain is damaged by an interruption
in oxygen supply during delivery.
The drug oxytocin is often used to induce labor in pregnant women who go
past their due date. However, when the dosage is too high, it can cause
overstimulated contractions, which in turn can lead to brain damage in
the baby. Oxytocin has a
history of leading to botched deliveries and eventual civil judgments for medical
malpractice. Doctors and other medical providers need to monitor the dosage
and contractions closely, and be prepared to perform caesarean sections
immediately if the health of the baby appears to be at risk.
Pursuing a Birth Injury Claim
Settlements of this sort usually involve no admission of guilt or liability
on the part of the defendant. They also require the judge to sign off
on the terms after finding that the settlement was reached in good faith
and with the fair understanding of both parties. Under the settlement,
the couple will not be able to sue the government again for the same injuries.
The $6.5 million will need to be sufficient to meet the child’s
needs and expenses going forward.
If your child has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy or another illness
stemming from a birth injury, you should contact a personal injury attorney
immediately. An attorney can review the facts of your case and determine
whether you have a viable claim. If so, they can help you seek the compensation