The Cost Of A Life: Historic Verdict In Pitocin Birth Injury Case Is Justified

February 28, 2017 | Crandall & Pera Law
The Cost Of A Life: Historic Verdict In Pitocin Birth Injury Case Is Justified

After four years, justice has been served for Ohio couple Nicole Welker and her partner, Justin Brinkley. The couple gave birth to a son in 2012, but complications during the labor left baby Justinian with “cerebral palsy and catastrophic disabilities” according to the lawsuit. After spending two years contending with the realities of Justinian’s care, the couple filed a lawsuit. It was another two years before the case was heard, but after four years of trials and travails, the young family will finally get the help they deserve; a civil court jury awarded the plaintiffs a record $14.5 million in damages.

The facts The lawsuit centered on Dr. Thomas Carnevale’s use of Pitocin to induce labor; according to pretrial memos, Welker received an inappropriately high dose of the drug despite the fact that her labor was progressing normally. In addition to the inappropriate administration, Dr. Carnevale failed to stop the administering the drug when the fetal heart rate dropped.

From The Legal Intelligencer, “The memo said the fetal heart rate progressively slowed for the next hour, dropping to 60 beats per minute by 8:10 p.m., and Carnevale took some steps to expedite the delivery. By that point Carnevale should have taken Welker off Pitocin, the memo said, but Welker remained on the drug for the rest of the delivery. By 8:20 p.m., the memo said, the baby's head was crowning so it could have been delivered by vacuum or forceps, but the delivery continued for about another 10 minutes before Carnevale cut an episiotomy and the baby was born.”

Why the award was necessary

Justinian suffers from spastic tetraparesis cerebral palsy (meaning all four limbs are affected) with impaired cognition. He experiences seizures and a condition called global aphasia, meaning that his ability to understand or express language has been severely compromised. He will never be able to socialize normally, never go on a first date, never drive a car; in short, he will never be able to lead a normal life. Justinian will likely require around the clock medical care for the rest of his natural life, and his parents have had to cover costs from specialized equipment to retrofitting their house with ramps, mechanical lifts and other devices.

Large verdicts make headlines and are a bone of contention. Some claim that large malpractice verdicts result in higher insurance costs, and therefore higher healthcare costs. Others point to a broken legal system – but not one of those arguments considers the value of a life. In this case, the jury was asked to assign an annual cost of healthcare through the year 2063. Remember, that’s twenty-four hour

care for the next forty-six years; suddenly, $14 million doesn’t sound like so much money anymore.

Birth injuries of any kind are devastating. Parents hope for a better life for their children, but they’ll settle for a normal life; when birth injuries happen, a normal life is a blessing. If your child suffered a birth injury, you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, therapy and other care. The experienced Kentucky and Ohio birth injury attorneys at Crandall & Pera Law can evaluate your case and help get you the compensation you deserve. For a free consultation, call our Ohio legal team at 877.686.8879, our Kentucky legal team at 877.651.7764, or contact us today.