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$1.7 Million Settlement in Birth Injury Malpractice Case

John Dalli recently settled a medical malpractice lawsuit against physicians associated with Englewood OB/GYN Associates and nurses employed by Englewood Hospital and Medical Center for $1.7 million dollars. Mr. Dalli represented a minor, Alexander Vollkommer, as well as his parents, for the physician’s failure to perform a timely Caesarian section and the nurses’ failure to properly monitor the fetal heart strips. These failures led to Alexander suffering oxygen deprivation in utero and as a result he now has cognitive and physical impairments.

Alexander was the first child for both parents and Heidi’s pregnancy was uncomplicated.  “Like any parents to be, we felt joy and elation,” recalls Heidi. Heidi did everything possible during her pregnancy to ensure a healthy baby. She was compliant with all of the doctor’s directions and took good care of her health.  There was no family history of any type of cognitive deficit including autism.

Heidi became pregnant in April of 1998 and had all of her prenatal care at Englewood OB/GYN Associates.  On January 28, 1999 she was admitted to Englewood Hospital and Medical Center with spontaneous onset of labor.  Heidi was admitted to the labor floor and her amniotic membranes were artificially ruptured. Soon after Pitocin infusion was begin via intravenous line.  Pitocin is a drug given to laboring women to stimulate uterine contractions. While Pitocin is being administered it is very important that the baby’s heart rate be monitored to ensure that the baby is receiving enough oxygen to the developing brain. A machine called an Electronic Fetal Heart Monitor is used to monitor the contractions and their effect on the baby.

Approximately two hours before delivery the Fetal Heart Monitor indicated what are known as “decelerations” in the fetal heart rate. Decelerations are an indication that there is fetal distress and that the baby is not receiving enough oxygen. In addition, the baby’s heart rate had been slowing down over the prior 20 to 30 minutes.  The baby was finally delivered by use of vacuum extraction. After delivery it became clear that Alexander had sustained injury to the brain as a result of the prolonged period of oxygen deprivation. He was born limp with no cry and very poor muscle tone.  He needed to be resuscitated and was discharged from the hospital two days after delivery.

Over the course of the next several months as Alexander grew older his parents realized that he  was not attaining certain milestones normally achieved by infants of his age. These included the ability to roll over and crawl as well as to begin to speak.  Neither parent was comfortable with the explanations given by the doctors as to the reasons for Alexander’s problems. They then came to Dalli & Marino, LLP to get some answers.

Mr. Dalli began an extensive review of Alexander’s birth and medical records.  After conferring with medical experts regarding what transpired in the delivery room, Mr. Dalli along with Alexander’s parents decided to file a birth injury malpractice lawsuit against the doctors responsible for Heidi’s labor and delivery as well as the nurses who were supposed to be watching the Fetal Heart Monitor for signs of distress. “If the physicians had followed the standard of care and performed a Caesarian Section, Alexander would not have suffered prolonged oxygen deprivation and brain injury that have resulted in his present cognitive and physical deficits,” noted John Dalli.

In addition, Mr. Dalli was able to show during discovery that the delivery room nurses were negligent in the manner in which they were monitoring Alexander’s heart rate. This led to late notification of fetal distress.

“When we decided to pursue legal action we of course had many options,” recalled Heidi.  “Mr. Dalli and his staff made us feel confident we made the right choice from the beginning,” Unfortunately there was limited insurance coverage applicable to Alexander’s case due to the bankruptcy of the physicians’ insurance company.  However the firm was able to secure a settlement that will ensure that Alexander’s needs are taken care of for the rest of his life.

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