State Court of Appeals Upholds Jury Verdict in Birth Injury Case

The Wisconsin Court of Appeals released a decision this summer in the birth injury case of Seifert v. Balink, affirming the jury’s award of damages to a family after a medical malpractice trial. The jury decided that the family should be compensated for injuries suffered by the child as a result of the defendant’s negligence in the prenatal and delivery care of the mother and child.

noe-2-1535710The defendants appealed to the Wisconsin Court of Appeals and challenged the jury verdict, claiming that the plaintiff’s expert witness should not have been permitted to testify and that the plaintiff’s attorney made several violative and prejudicial statements during the closing arguments that unfairly swayed the jury’s opinion. The Wisconsin Court of Appeals rejected all of the defendant’s contentions on appeal, finding that the plaintiff’s expert was properly admitted and any statements made during closing arguments did not warrant a new trial.

As a result of this ruling, the plaintiffs can expect to receive what was awarded to them by the jury, and the verdict amount will help compensate them for the expenses and losses related to the permanent disability suffered by their son because of a preventable birth injury resulting from the negligence of a medical professional.

The Baby is Left Permanently Disabled After Unexpected Problems Arise During Delivery

The mother of the child who is the subject of this litigation had been seeing the defendant doctor for prenatal care throughout her pregnancy, as well as for the baby’s delivery. Leading up to the delivery, the doctor did not foresee any complications and utilized a vacuum pump to assist in the delivery. After the baby had partially emerged, his head retracted back into the mother, and he was stuck. The doctor then determined that the baby suffered from shoulder dystocia, an emergency condition that can cause serious nerve damage and even threaten the baby’s life due to oxygen depletion. In response to the diagnosis, the defendant directed urgent maneuvers to dislodge the baby, ultimately resulting in his birth. Shortly after his birth, the child was diagnosed with permanent nerve damage in his left shoulder and arm that would permanently inhibit the growth and use of the limb.

The Plaintiff’s Negligence Claim and Testimony of a Medical Expert

The plaintiff alleged that her child’s disabling injuries were caused by the defendant applying excessive force while hurrying to dislodge the baby after the emergency diagnosis of shoulder dystocia. The plaintiff used the testimony of an expert witness to argue that the defendant was negligent in several respects, all contributing to the child’s injuries. The expert testified that the defendant underestimated the weight of the fetus prior to birth, failed to order a glucose test on the mother, and chose to perform an ill-advised vacuum-assisted birth, considering the weight of the mother and the high likelihood of an abnormally high birth weight based on other factors.

The circuit court found that the doctor was qualified by his education and experience, and it ruled that his opinions were reliable and based on reliable methodology, and therefore they met the threshold to be admitted and considered by the jury. The Court of Appeals also agreed with the lower court’s decision, emphasizing that a doctor’s experience and knowledge alone can be sufficient to admit medical expert testimony in a birth injury lawsuit such as this, and the jury should be permitted to decide for themselves based on the evidence at trial.

Should You Contact an Attorney?

If you believe you or a loved one may be a victim of medical malpractice from mistakes made during prenatal care or surrounding the time of birth, you should contact a qualified medical malpractice attorney as soon as you can to discuss your case. The experienced birth injury attorneys at Wais, Vogelstein, Forman & Offutt want to help you hold the responsible parties accountable for their mistakes and get you and your family the compensation that you deserve. We focus our practice on birth injury cases and want to know what happened to you. Contact the dedicated birth injury lawyers at Wais, Vogelstein, Forman & Offutt today. Call us at (410) 998-3600 or contact us through our website to schedule a risk-free consultation.

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