Doctors, nurses and other health care professionals are expected to provide the highest quality care during a mother’s pregnancy, labor, and delivery of her baby. Failure to do so can result in lifelong birth injuries. For decades, Anapol Weiss has been committed to successfully advocating and obtaining justice for families whose children were harmed during birth.
Attorney Stephen Pokiniewski obtained a $4 million medical malpractice lawsuit verdict for a mother and her baby who both suffered severe and permanent injuries during a prolonged and difficult labor involving shoulder dystocia.
Medical malpractice attorney Stephen Pokiniewski
The 29-year-old mother underwent a vaginal delivery of her daughter despite voicing concerns that her child was abnormally large – as predicted by a sonogram four days before the delivery. The resulting 16-hour labor and delivery nearly killed the infant and left the mother with a substantial vaginal tear. The baby had no heartbeat, wasn’t breathing or moving and was blue after the traumatic delivery. She required immediate lifesaving resuscitation in the delivery room and was later transferred to Thomas Jefferson Hospital for emergency head cooling treatment.
The 2013 case, which was tried in Allentown, Pennsylvania before the Honorable Lawrence Brenner, asserted the obstetrician did not offer to perform a cesarean section at any time during the labor. He disregarded clear warning signs that the baby was suffering from shoulder dystocia, a condition in which her shoulder was trapped behind the mother’s pubic bone. The obstetrician instead used forceps to try to deliver the baby. The result was severe birth trauma.
“This case makes clear that a physician must listen to his patient’s concerns and not disregard the risk of injury to his patients when he is rendering treatment,” Pokiniewski said. “Patient safety has to come first.”
The child still has weakness on her left side as well as cognitive and expressive speech delays. Her mother suffers from anal and urinary incontinence and other injuries as a result of the laceration she suffered during delivery. Both the mother and her daughter have suffered agonizing pain and emotional distress in addition to physical disfigurement.
What is Shoulder Dystocia?
Shoulder dystocia can occur when a
large infant, called a macrosomic baby,
is too big to deliver normally.
Obstetricians must act quickly when
this condition happens, as too much
pressure or pulling too hard can lead to
oxygen deprivation or severe birth
The jury awarded Pokiniewski’s client a total of $1,960,780 in compensatory damages as follows: $6,530 for past medical expenses, $64,250 for past loss of earnings, $650,000 for past non-economic damages, $650,000 for future non-economic damages, and $550,000 for future loss of earnings. The jury found damages for the injuries to the baby in the amount of $2,160,000 as follows: $160,420 for past medical expenses, $1 million for non-economic past damages and $1 million for non-economic future damages.
The child is currently undergoing treatment including occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech therapy and is enrolled in a special education program. The impact of her delivery on the remainder of her life remains unknown.
The carelessness with which the obstetrician delivered the baby was made clear to the jury, and a unanimous verdict was reached five days after the trial began. The mother and daughter may never fully recover from their injuries, but Pokiniewski was able to obtain some justice for the family.