Miles v. Defendant Obstetrician

  • Circuit Court of Cook County (Judge James Varga)01/27/2009
    Counsel: Sherri M. Arrigo
    Client: Defendant Obstetrician
    Outcome: Defense Verdict

Synopsis:

On January 27, 2009, a Cook County jury found in favor of the firm's client, an obstetrician represented by DBMS.

Plaintiffs, a 28-year old postal service worker and her husband, presented to the hospital for the delivery of their first child two days past the due date. The mother's bag of waters ruptured at home and contractions started several hours later. When she arrived at the hospital, her contraction pattern was inadequate and the cervix was not dilated. 

Because of the risk of infection with prolonged ruptured membranes, Pitocin was administered to augment the labor. It was undisputed that Pitocin and a prolonged labor increase risks to mother and baby. Despite Pitocin, the mother made only slow progress, remaining in latent labor. The baby was eventually delivered by cesarian section after approximately 44 hours of labor and 50 hours after the bag of waters had ruptured.

Although the child was born healthy, the mother developed severe post-partum hemorrhage, ultimately requiring a hysterectomy, which rendered her unable to bear more children. Plaintiffs alleged that the defendant negligently failed to timely and adequately advise the mother of the risks of her prolonged labor with ruptured membranes and failed to strongly recommend a cesarian section to obtain her consent.

The defense argued that the obstetrician properly advised the patient of the risks and benefits of cesarian section versus a continued attempt at vaginal delivery, but the patient strongly desired a vaginal delivery and initially did not consent to cesarian section. The defense argued it was reasonable to proceed with labor where the fetal heart tracing remained reassuring and there was no evidence of infection, and that the cesarian section was performed in a timely manner within the standard of care.

The defense further argued that post-partum hemorrhage is a risk of any labor and delivery, that it was timely diagnosed and treated within the standard of care, and that the obstetrician made heroic efforts to save the lives of the baby and the mother.

After deliberating for approximately one hour, the jury returned a verdict for the defendant.