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Birth Injury Results in Paraplegia, New York Appellate Court Ruled for Plaintiff


Plaintiff was admitted to one of the defendants’ hospitals for a cesarean section (birth injury or birth injury accident), the second of such procedures performed upon her, and emerged therefrom a paraplegic (paraplegia). The instant action was then commenced against defendants.

Were the defendants negligent that would warrant a finding of medical malpractice?

Plaintiffs introduced medical experts whose view were to the effect that the injuries to the plaintiff resulted from a compression of the arteries supplying blood to the spinal cord, and this view found some further support in the hospital’s own records, in a note containing the impression that the plaintiff was suffering from paralysis as a result of the compressing of her spinal cord.

A New York Injury Lawyer said the evidence presented a sharp issue of fact; whether plaintiff’s injury was caused by a negligent interference with the blood supply to her spinal cord or whether it was the result of any other source.

The trial court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs.

The defendants’ contend that the verdict was against the weight of the evidence which is founded in the testimony of their own medical experts.

Emphasis must be given on the fact that the resolution of conflicting evidence, as well as the credibility of witnesses, is a matter for the jury to determine, and not the court. The plaintiffs are entitled to the benefit of every favorable inference which can reasonably be drawn from the facts, and the finding of the jury may be disturbed only if it may be said that the preponderance of the evidence in this case was so great that the jury could not have reached the verdict it did on any fair interpretation of such evidence.

The defendants also contend that certain remarks made by plaintiffs’ counsel in his closing statement that “it was his “theory” that the doctors performing the cesarean had intentionally compressed the artery supplying blood to the area in question in order to stop plaintiff from hemorrhaging and in order to provide a clean operational field” were highly prejudicial and mandate reversal.

It must be noted from the testimony presented that the surgical procedure was improperly delayed for a matter of hours by defendants’ servants; and, as testified to by defendants’ witnesses, each step in a second cesarean procedure should take longer than the corresponding step in the initial cesarean procedure. A Bronx Personal Injury Lawyer said in the second operational procedure involving plaintiff, however, the infant was delivered only 13 minutes after commencement of the operation, whereas in the first cesarean section performed upon her, the infant had been delivered 18 minutes after commencement of the operation. From these facts, it could fairly be inferred that the early part of the second procedure was performed with untoward haste. Evidence was also adduced that during the 13 minutes after the commencement of the second procedure plaintiff sustained a four centimeter tear in her uterus. Plaintiffs’ expert in obstetrics testified that such a tear should engender considerable bleeding. However, evidence of plaintiff’s blood loss during this procedure demonstrated that such blood loss was below what is normal for such type of surgery. It could be reasonably inferred from such evidence that action was taken in the initial stages of surgery to restrict blood loss and such inference has support in the testimony of defendants’ expert in obstetrics, who stated that the only way to cause an injury of the type that resulted in this case is to restrict the blood supply; and that in certain life-threatening situations it is proper to clamp the aorta in order to prevent hemorrhaging in the pelvic area and to provide a clean surgical field. It should be noted further that the issue of intentional clamping of the aorta as being a possible causative factor of the restricting of blood flow and any resultant injury was addressed by the defendants’ counsel both in his cross-examination of one of the plaintiffs’ expert witnesses and in the direct examination of his own experts.

The trial court ruled that the remarks in question were fair comment and that since plaintiff was unconscious at the time of the operation, she could not know exactly what occurred; as a result, a Brooklyn Personal Injury Lawyer said the court ruled that she was entitled to argue any theory consistent with the proof offered at trial.

The herein court agrees with the trial court’s rulings.

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