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Published On: Mon, Oct 9th, 2017

Jury Awards $3 Million in Birth Injury Case

A Wilmington, Delaware jury has awarded $3 million in damages in a case involving an obstetrician accused of pulling a baby out by the head during delivery. The alleged act caused the baby’s right arm to be paralyzed.

The suit was filed in the New Castle County Superior Court in 2014. The family alleged that Peter Wong, an OB-GYN in Dover, Delaware, pulled the baby’s head and neck too hard during delivery in 2008. The doctor was attempting to dislodge the baby’s shoulder during delivery. The alleged pulling of the baby caused permanent nerve damage to the baby.

photo by Carrie Z. via pixabay

The suit alleges that Wong never disclosed the risks involved with the procedure.

“Shoulder dystocia typically occurs during delivery when the baby’s shoulders become stuck behind the mother’s pelvic bone,” explains attorney Denise Bradshaw. “Some of the medical risks caused by shoulder dystocia include nerve damage to the baby’s shoulder, arms and hands, which can cause shaking or paralysis, bruising of the mother’s bladder, and lack of oxygen to the baby, which can cause brain damage or even death.”

Bruce Hudson, the lawyer who represented the mother, Monica Broughton, says the jury’s award is a “fair and just amount.”

“He’s got a lot of living to do with this impairment,” says Broughton.

The mother agreed to induce labor in 2008 after being diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Wong was aware that the baby’s shoulder was stuck behind the mother’s pelvis. The doctor pulled the baby’s shoulder in a downward motion to dislodge it.

The child, although healthy, was born with his right arm limp at his side. Two of the five nerves in the child’s shoulders were ripped in half. The remaining nerves were stretched to the point where they were no longer functioning.

Surgery has helped the child regain some mobility in his arms, but he still has difficulty zipping his own pants. He cannot ride a bike because his wrist curls inwards. He also cannot lift or bring his right arm behind his head, or touch his stomach with his impaired arm.

Wong has denied negligence, and argued that the baby’s injuries were caused by forces of labor.

The doctor’s medical license is set to expire in 2019, and legal experts say he will likely keep his license.

The large verdict is a rarity in Delaware, although common in other states. In Delaware, medical malpractice suits are typically settled behind closed doors. Those that do go to trial typically have conservative awards. The state requires a unanimous jury verdict in civil lawsuits.

Author: Jacob Maslow

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