Defense: Child's impairment due to genetics, not injury
|Delayed Treatment, Medical Malpractice - Failure to Communicate, Medical Malpractice - Childbirth, Medical Malpractice - Brain Injuries, Medical Malpractice - Birth Injury, Medical Malpractice - OB-GYN, Medical Malpractice - Nurse|
|Stephanie Butler-Carr, Inft by Her m/n/g, Suzanne Butler & Suzanne Butler, Indiv. v. St. Catherine of Sienna Medical Center, Personal Woman's Care and Keith Sommers, MD., No. 4316/06|
|Suffolk Supreme, NY|
- Kenneth J. Ready; Kenneth J. Ready & Associates; Mineola, NY, for Stephanie Butler-Carr, Suzanne Butler
- Florence B. Gibbons; Rogak & Gibbons, LLP; East Meadow, NY, for Keith Sommers, Personal Women's Care P.C.
- Guy A. Lawrence; Bartlett, McDonough & Monaghan, LLP; Mineola, NY, for St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center
- Daniel Miller M.D.; Obstetrics; Bronx, NY called by: Guy Lawrence
- Victor Klein M.D.; Obstetrics; Glen Cove, NY called by: Florence Gibbons
- Nirmala Mitra M.D.; Pediatric Neurology; Huntington, NY called by: Florence Gibbons
- Doris Hidalgo R.N.; Nurse Practitioner; Manhasset, NY called by: Guy Lawrence
- Andrew Steele M.D.; Neonatology; New Hyde Park, NY called by: Guy Lawrence
- W. Brown; Genetics; Staten Island, NY called by: Guy Lawrence
At 10:50 a.m. on Aug. 12, 2003, plaintiff Stephanie Butler-Carr was born. The delivery was performed by Dr. Keith Sommers, at St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center, in Smithtown.
Stephanie's delivery concluded a nine-hour-long process that began when her mother, Suzanne Butler, was admitted to St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center. Sommers was not present, but a nurse immediately activated a device that monitored the fetus's heart, and the monitor initially produced normal results. Typically, 120 beats were being registered during each interval of one minute. After several hours had passed, the monitor indicated a significant acceleration of the heart's functioning. Typically, 150 beats were being registered during each interval of one minute. That rate was consistently observed during the hours that followed 4 a.m. At 8:55 a.m., Sommers was summoned. After 35 minutes had passed, Sommers determined that a Caesarean delivery was the safest method of delivering the child. When Stephanie was delivered, the umbilical cord was wrapped around her head. Sommers opined that Stephanie was healthy, but another doctor subsequently opined that the child had sustained an injury that caused damage of her brain. Suzanne Butler claimed that the injury was a result of a failure to promptly deliver the child.
Butler, acting individually and as Stephanie's parent and natural guardian, sued Sommers; Sommers' practice, Personal Women's Care P.C.; and St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center. The plaintiffs alleged that Sommers and the hospital's staff failed to properly manage Stephanie's delivery, that the failures constituted malpractice, that Personal Women's Care was vicariously liable for Sommers' actions and that St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center was vicariously liable for the actions of its staff.
Plaintiffs' counsel claimed that a monitor clearly demonstrated that the fetus suffered hours of distress. He contended that the distress was initially indicated by the accelerated functioning of the fetus's heart, and he claimed that the symptom suggested that a prolonged labor could have harmed the fetus. Plaintiffs' counsel further claimed that a monitor subsequently revealed a rapid deceleration of the heart's functioning. He contended that 40 beats were registered during one interval of 60 seconds, and he claimed that the deceleration clearly suggested that the fetus's brain and other organs were not receiving sufficient amounts of oxygen. The plaintiffs' expert neurologist noted that the deceleration was detected at 7:20 a.m. He contended that the baby could have been safely delivered during the ensuing 30 minutes, but that two hours passed before Sommers ordered performance of a Caesarean delivery. Plaintiffs' counsel also claimed that the fetus's distress was not promptly reported to Sommers.
Defense counsel contended that Stephanie was not injured during the delivery. They claimed that several tests and visual evaluations were performed during the hours that followed Stephanie's delivery, and they contended that the tests did not reveal an abnormality. They noted that Stephanie's impairment was detected after four months had passed, and they claimed that it was a result of a nonspecific genetic condition.
Sommers contended that he did not observe anything that suggested that the fetus was experiencing distress.
Plaintiffs' counsel claimed that Stephanie sustained damage of her brain. He contended that Stephanie suffers residual conditions that include amblyopia, which is a dysfunctional condition of an eye; hypotonia, which is a poorly developed state of a person's muscles; strabismus, which is an impairment of the eyes' coordination; tracheomalacia, which is a deficiency of the cartilage that supports the trachea; and dysfunction of her gastroesophageal system.
Plaintiffs' counsel also claimed that Stephanie's injury delayed her development. He contended that she experiences permanent deficits that will affect her career.
Stephanie's mother sought recovery of a total of $9 million for Stephanie's past and future medical expenses, $1.6 million for Stephanie's future loss of earnings, and a total of $15 million for Stephanie's past and future pain and suffering. She also presented a derivative claim.
The jury rendered a defense verdict.
This report is based on court documents and information that was provided by defense counsel. Plaintiffs' counsel did not respond to the reporter's phone calls.