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Mother sues doctors for failing to order a c-section delivery- Mitchell v. Lograno (N.Y. Sup. Ct., 2011)


When a doctor fails to perform a c-section delivery when warranted, there is a risk that the mother or baby will suffer serious birth injuries, including permanent injuries to the brain. Plaintiff Mitchell filed a medical malpractice lawsuit on behalf of her infant son against defendants Lograno, Strittmatter, and the hospital. Mitchell argues that because the doctors did not perform a c-section delivery, there were negligent, and as a result, her son suffered permanent brain injuries.

Two days prior to her expected delivery date, Mitchell was given a test that showed that her baby’s heartbeat was non-reactive. Mitchell was transferred to a hospital for additional tests and monitoring. Defendant Lograno, Michell’s doctor, discussed options with her and decided to induce a vaginal delivery using Pitocin. Before Lograno left for the evening, he discussed Mitchell’s case with Strittmatter. It was agreed that the baby would be delivered via vaginal delivery. Strittmatter performed the delivery. The baby suffered a number of injuries during the delivery, including brain damage. Mitchell filed a personal injury lawsuit against Lograno, Strittmatter, and the hospital, arguing that as a result of not performing a c-section, her baby suffered serious injuries including a brain damage. Lograno and Strittmatter moved for summary judgement dismissal of the case.

A motion for summary judgment dismal seeks a judgement on all or part of the case in a summary fashion, without the issue or case being fully litigated at trial. In this case the defendants are asking the judge to decide the case in their favor, immediately, without a trial. The legal standard for summary dismissal is that the defendants must show that there are “no genuine issues of material fact” and that they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law. In other words, the defendant must show that based on undisputed facts presented, the defendant must win because the law supports the defendants’ position.

The standard for whether a doctor was negligent is whether his or her actions deviated from accepted community standards of medical practice, and that as a result, the patient was injured. Defendant Lograno argues that he did not participate in the prenatal care and treatment of Mitchell, and therefore, the claims asserted against him pertaining to the prenatal period should be dismissed. In addition, Lograno asserts that he did not participate in the care and treatment Mitchell other than between approximately 11:15 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. on May 23, 2003. Defendant Strittmatter argues that except for an office visit and a consultation, he did not participate in Mitchell’s prenatal care. Both defendants argue that the care and treatment provided to Mitchell in the period before and during her delivery when they were involved was appropriate and within good and accepted medical practice.

The court concluded that although the defendants stated that there was no departure from the standard of care and set forth the events and progress of the pregnancy, labor and delivery, no opinion was stated as to the significance and indications of the non-reactive stress tests, the low biophysical assessment results, and the standard of care when such results are obtained. The defendants did not comment upon the mother’s blood pressure during the pregnancy and labor although a history of hypertension has been noted, as well as on the vital sign sheet prior to delivery. In addition, the defendants did not state how the mother and the fetus were appropriately monitored. Importantly, the defendants do not address the presence of meconium with the delivery of the infant’s head, thus raising a further factual issue concerning whether the infant suffered fetal distress prior to delivery. Such factual issues preclude court order without trial. Thus, the court denied the defendants’ motion for summary judgement dismissing the complaint.

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