In Shoulder Dystocia Case, Appellate Court Overturns Defense Victory, Awards $2.4M

September 8, 2021 | Strategic Insights for Health System


An infant suffered a severe global brachial plexus injury after experiencing shoulder dystocia during delivery. In a 4 to 1 decision, the Court of Appeal of Louisiana, Third Circuit, has vacated the trial court's dismissal of the case and has awarded the plaintiffs about $2.4 million. The appellate court opined that the trial court erred in admitting defense expert testimony that maternal forces of labor caused the injuries and in excluding plaintiff expert testimony that the force the defendant obstetrician-gynecologist applied caused the injuries.

During delivery, the infant was diagnosed with shoulder dystocia. The obstetrician-gynecologist attempted to use the McRoberts maneuver, suprapubic pressure, and forceps to deliver the infant. The infant was delivered within 45 seconds of experiencing shoulder dystocia. However, she suffered a severe brachial plexus injury: The nerves at the C5, C6, and C7 levels were pulled completely away from her spine, and the nerves at the C8 and T1 levels were partially pulled away from her spine. She permanently lost use...

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