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Brachial Plexus Birth Injury Lawsuit Filed in Iowa District Court

baby's hand

On July 29, 2014, the family of a minor child allegedly injured during childbirth filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa. Among other allegations, the complaint asserts that the defendants – a certified nurse midwife and the Knoxville Community Hospital – failed to render proper prenatal and delivery care to the mother of the child, resulting in a difficult birth and the necessary use of instruments to finally extract the child.

As a result, the child has suffered a brachial plexus injury, which could possibly cause significant mobility problems in the future.

Details of brachial plexus birth injury lawsuit

According to the complaint, the plaintiff-mother began her pregnancy weighing approximately 220 pounds, making gestational diabetes (and resulting high fetal birth weight) a strong likelihood. Nonetheless, the plaintiff continued to progress in her pregnancy and was measured at 39 ½ weeks as 263 pounds. Concurrently, her child measured large for gestational age, with an estimated fetal weight of 3,733 grams. The plaintiff was thereafter ordered to arrive at Knoxville General Hospital the following day to begin an induction of labor, which was ultimately unsuccessful in the first go-round.

The following day, the plaintiff returned to the hospital for a second administration of the labor-inducing synthetic hormone known as Pitocin (oxytocin). After nearly 10 hours of laboring, the plaintiff was noted to be at 9 centimeters dilatation and +1 substation – also showing marked instances of fetal cardiac deceleration. The plaintiff was ordered to begin pushing shortly thereafter, and immediately required intervention from the nurse midwife assisting the delivery.

Following the commencement of the pushing stage of labor, the certified nurse midwife began to notice that shoulder dystocia was preventing the baby from passing through the birth canal. Shoulder dystocia generally occurs when the child’s anterior shoulder becomes lodged behind the mother’s pubic bone, almost always requiring assistance from a nurse or doctor to avoid prolonged lingering in the birth canal. However, correcting shoulder dystocia can sometimes lead to physiological damage to the child, as is the case in the allegations made by the plaintiff.

Injuries sustained by the minor child 

Based on the factual assertions of the complaint, negligence by the nurse midwife in failing to properly monitor and care for the plaintiff directly resulted in the child suffering from a condition known as brachial plexus injury. The brachial plexus is a complex network of nerves designed to send signals from the brain to the shoulder, arm and hand. Injuries can occur if these nerves are compressed, torn, or stretched.

According to the allegations, the child suffered his brachial plexus injury as a direct result of the midwife’s placement of “excessive and unnecessary traction” on the child’s head and neck.  The plaintiff further asserts that the child’s injuries are permanent, and he may never regain full use of his hand and arm.  She also alleges other unspecified, permanent damages to the child’s upper left extremities, as well as other parts of his body.

The plaintiff is seeking damages to redress her child’s likely lifelong disabilities occurring as a result of the birth injury, including compensation for medical expenses, loss of function, deformity, disability, therapy, surgeries, drugs, and medicine.