Wrongful death trial: 8-day old twin at Beth Israel Hospital died of necrotizing enterocolitis — jury finds medical negligence
The plaintiffs brought a wrongful death action on behalf of their eight day old twin daughter who was born premature at 30 weeks at Beth Israel Hospital, Boston, MA. She weighed 2 pounds, 7 ounces. She was intubated at birth, was weaned from the ventilator on day two of life and progressed to breathing normally on room air on day four of life. She was small, but otherwise healthy.
Because she was preterm, she was at risk for developing necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a condition where the immature bowel cannot handle the stress of feedings and becomes infected and dies. She was also found to have a patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) which required treatment with Indocin putting her at greater risk for NEC. She was being fed increasing amounts of enteral feedings, via a tube going through her nose to her stomach, which also put her at risk for NEC.
Because of the risk factors for NEC, the plaintiffs alleged that the defendants should have been paying close and careful attention for any signs or symptoms of NEC. The plaintiff contended that signs and symptoms were present, however the defendants claimed these were all non-specific findings and specifically denied there were any signs or symptoms of NEC.
The defendants contended they met the standards of medical care for this very small and fragile premature baby. They further contended that the death, while unfortunate, was not predictable or preventable, and that the NEC arose in a fulminate way at the very end when there was nothing that could be done to save her. They reacted properly and appropriately and timely to the presentation, and complied in all respects with acceptable medical care.
The case was brought against two neonatologists, two nurse practitioners, and two registered nurses. The jury found that one doctor and one nurse practitioner were negligent, and that such negligence caused the baby’s death. The jury awarded $50,000 for the baby’s conscious pain and suffering, and $3,500,000 each to the baby’s mother and father for their loss of the mother-daughter and father-daughter relationship.
The case took two and a half weeks to try, and the jury deliberated for seven and a half hours over two days
Estate of Lacaillade
Dec 14, 2011
$8.5 Million Verdict
CONCORD, NH (December 14, 2011) — William J. Thompson of Lubin & Meyer obtained an $8.5 million jury verdict this afternoon in New Hampshire federal court. The case involved wrongful death claims brought by the family of a 38-year-old father of two, who was killed while cycling in August, 2008, when he was run over by a tractor trailer. The accident occurred on Route 25 in Porter, Maine, about a mile and a half from the NH border. The bicyclist was an experienced rider on a high-performance bike. The tractor trailer attempted to pass the bicyclist on a left curve in the roadway, but had limited visibility. When a vehicle appeared traveling in the other direction, the tractor trailer had to move to the right leaving limited clearance for the bicyclist and forcing him off the road where he lost control and fell back under the tractor trailer's rear tires and was killed instantly. The trial lasted seven days and the jury deliberated for four hours before reaching its verdict. It is believed to be the largest jury verdict in New Hampshire this year.
Estate of Diresta
Jun 20, 2001
$2.7 Million Verdict
Obstetrician violated standard of care by failing to recognize signs that indicated a Casarean section delivery.
The plaintiffs were parents expecting the birth of their second son on January 5, 1997. Their first son had been delivered by the same Obstetrician five years earlier. That labor resulted in a Cesarean section delivery due to failure to progress, arrest of dilation, chorioamnionitis (infection of the uterus), and cephelopelvic disproportion (baby's head had difficulty fitting through the birth canal). The first baby is healthy today.
The second pregnancy was unremarkable and all signs indicated a healthy fetus when mother presented to the hospital at term at 5:30 a.m. after her water broke.
During the day, there were occasional mild variable decelerations of the fetal heart rate to 90 beats per minute with return to a baseline of 125. An epidural was placed, and dilation was slow. Labor was augmented with Pitocin. The mother developed a fever and was given penicillin and Tylenol.
The second stage of labor lasted one hour and twenty six minutes. At 8:24 p.m. the baby's head was delivered over a midline episiotomy. The head was occiput anterior and a shoulder dystocia was immediately recognized. From 8:24 p.m. to 8:26 p.m., the obstetrician attempted to free the trapped shoulders by using the McRobert's position with suprapubic pressure and the Wood's corkscrew maneuver, but both were unsuccessful.
The same maneuvers were attempted from 8:26 p.m. to 8:28 p.m. with the mother on her left side. She was then placed on all fours from 8:28 p.m. to 8:31 p.m. with the same maneuvers applied. Finally with additional compression and upward traction on the rectum the posterior shoulder was able to be delivered and complete delivery ensued.
The baby was delivered without a heart rate or respirations. Anesthesia was present at delivery and the baby was intubated immediately and resuscitation efforts were initiated. The baby's pupils were noted to be fixed and dilated. Initial cord pH was 6.86. The baby was pronounced dead at 9:53 p.m.
The plaintiffs introduced evidence that the obstetrician violated the standard of care by failing to recognize the worrisome signs that indicated a Cesarean section delivery. The mother's failure to progress, her infection, the worrisome changes on the EFM, and the prior labor resulting in a Cesarean section all required the obstetrician to deliver this baby by Cesarean section instead of continuing with the trial of labor.
After the baby's head was delivered, he was not able to take a breath because his chest was being compressed in the birth canal. The baby could not receive oxygen from the umbilical cord because that was also being compressed in the birth canal.
The defendant put forth evidence that the standard of care did not require a Cesarean section at any time. The baby was never hypoxic and was never in any distress prior to becoming trapped in the birth canal. The defendant also elicited testimony from every medical witness that shoulder dystocia cannot be predicted and the obstetrician had no way of knowing this unpredictable event would occur. Once faced with a shoulder dystocia, the obstetrician performed all of the recognized obstetrical maneuvers to free the baby's shoulders and deliver the baby. The defendant also put forth evidence that the unforeseeable event was unfortunate, but was not caused by any negligence on the part of the obstetrician.
The jury deliberated for six hours over two days before rendering its verdict in favor of the plaintiffs, awarding one million dollars to each parent for the loss of their relationship with their son. There was no evidence of, and no claim made for, any conscious pain and suffering of the baby.
Estate of Kelly
Dec 07, 2007
$4.9 Million Verdict
A jury awarded $6.1 million to the family of a Cape Cod man killed as a result of a 2003 accident at Gillette Stadium in which a steel gate smashed through the windshield of a bus and pinned terrified passengers inside for an hour.
The Suffolk Superior Court jury found Foxboro Realty — owner of Gillette Stadium and part of the Kraft family’s sprawling business empire that includes the New England Patriots — and two other firms negligent for the fatal mishap that also injured a woman so badly she had to have a leg amputated.
The jury awarded the widow of Thomas Kelly, who died of injuries a few days after the Aug. 29, 2003, incident, $1.82 million and Kelly’s two sons $1.14 million each. After medical expenses, interest payments and other costs were included, the final ruling in the Kellys’ favor was $6.1 million.
Kelly, 64, a resident of Yarmouth, was among a group of passengers on a shuttle bus returning to the Foxboro stadium from the Deutsche Bank Championship professional golf tournament in Norton. A heavy gate blown shut by the wind crashed into the bus, severely injuring some passengers.
“There was debris everywhere. We pushed the windows open. We yelled, ‘We need an ambulance. We need to call 911,’ ” one passenger recalled at the time, according to published reports.
Three of the 16 injured were later airlifted to an area hospital.
Jun 16, 2006
$3.5 Million Verdict
An Essex jury awarded $3.5 million to a Newburyport woman who had to have her breasts removed after a failed breast-reduction operation.
Dr. Michele T. Sasmor, a plastic surgeon from Newburyport, was negligent in botching a 2002 operation and failing to provide the victim, Celine Vincent, with sufficient information about the risks, the jury found at Superior Court in Lawrence.
"I think the jury recognized the effect of the trauma and the emotional injury," said William Thompson, a Boston-based laywer representing Vincent. Neither Dr. Sasmor nor her lawyer returned calls yesterday. Hospital officials confirmed the doctor works there, but declined to comment further.
Vincent, 63, filed her lawsuit in January 2003, after the operation at Anna Jacques Hospital in Newburyport, Thompson said.
It was Vincent's second breast-reduction operation, he said. The first operation, at a Montreal hospital in 1961 , used a different technique, he said. The doctors preserved blood flow from the top part of her breasts and removed tissue from the bottom, the routine technique at the time, he said.
In 2002, after having had three children and gaining 40 pounds, Vincent wanted another breast reduction, Thompson said.
When Dr. Sasmor did the surgery that December, Thompson said, she cut tissue from the top and preserved blood flow from the bottom of her breasts, which is how the operation is now routinely done.
"Sasmor didn't check how the previous operation was done," Thompson said. "She assumed it was done the way she was doing it, and she was mistaken."
The operation resulted in a disruption of blood flow to Vincent's breasts, which left the tissue "necrotic," meaning they had to be removed shortly after the surgery.