Mother Wins $4 Million for Daughter’s Birth Injury
A Pennsylvania mother whose daughter was born with cerebral palsy and neurological injuries won a $4 million jury award against her doctor for not performing a cesarean section.
Erin McCarthy went into labor in August 2009 with her daughter Chloe. Her labor stalled for nearly eight hours but her doctor, Dr. Garry C. Karounos, continued with a vaginal delivery, according to the lawsuit.
After McCarthy became too tired to continue pushing, Karounos used forceps to deliver Chloe, who was deprived of oxygen for three and one-half minutes when the baby’s shoulder got caught on her mother’s pelvis, according to McCarthy’s attorney, Stephen Pokiniewski.
During the trial, Pokiniewski argued that the doctor knew going into delivery that a c-section was appropriate because an ultrasound four days before delivery showed that the baby weighed 10 pounds.
“She was coming in with a large baby; everyone knew that,” Pokiniewski is quoted as saying in The Morning Call, a Lehigh Valley, Penn., newspaper.
After delivery, Chloe was revived by the neonatal intensive care unit and transferred to another hospital where her brain was cooled to minimize damage from lack of oxygen, according to Pokiniewski.
However, the doctor’s attorney, Eugene P. Feeney, argued that the care was appropriate even though there was a complication in the delivery.
He also disputed that a baby is in danger of brain injury when deprived of oxygen for the time that Chloe was, pointing to medical literature that says it takes at least six minutes of lack of oxygen to cause brain injury.
“The jury ignored all that,” said Dr. Karounos after the verdict. “The jury saw a 4 year-old child who was hospitalized for two months and a mother who is concerned about her child and a grandmother who is crying in the courtroom.”