Birth Injury Verdict: $2.3 Million Awarded to Child Who Suffered Permanent Shoulder Damage During Mismanaged Delivery | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

What Happened

Our Virginia medical malpractice client was a young child living in Norfolk, VA. During the child’s birth, the nurse-midwife attending the mother responded incorrectly to a complication called shoulder dystocia. In nonmedical terms, the baby’s shoulders failed to emerge from the vaginal canal shortly after the head appeared.

While freeing the child’s shoulders, the nurse midwife tore the child’s brachial plexus. That is a bundle of nerves that transmit signals from the spinal cord to the shoulder. When it becomes damaged or torn, a person loses the ability to control his or her arm. Symptoms of a brachial plexus injury range from tremors and numbness to complete paralysis accompanied by persistent pain. Many patients experience different problems at different times.


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Key Legal Strategy

Our Virginia medical malpractice attorney took it as his duty to secure as much compensation for his young client as possible. The nurse-midwife’s negligence burdened the innocent child with a lifelong disability as well as a need for ongoing medical treatment merely to control brachial plexus injuries that could have been prevented.

A civil trial jury agreed and awarded the child $2.3 million. The jurors also ordered the medical malpractice insurance company for the nurse-midwife to pay the child’s mother $60,000 for past and future medical bills.

The award to the child was placed in an interest-bearing account that will be overseen by a trusted individual called a fiduciary. Under law, a fiduciary must act in the financial interest of the person whose money he or she controls. Funds will be released to the child when the child reaches 18 years of age.

Few patients are as vulnerable as babies being born, and even minor medical mistakes can impose a lifetime of suffering. This case proves that all types of health care providers can, and must, be held accountable for failing to use best practices to protect patients. Medical malpractice is not just a problem for doctors and surgeons.

Court and Dates: Norfolk Circuit Court, Norfolk, VA

Staff: Staff attorney