Medical Verdicts

Severe shoulder dystocia associated with neurological injury


Unknown North Carolina venue

A woman presented to the hospital in labor at full term. After rupture of membranes, meconium-stained fluid was noted. The woman was fully dilated in 2 hours without anesthesia.

At delivery a severe shoulder dystocia was encountered. The first obstetrician tried multiple maneuvers, including a Zavanelli maneuver, but they were all unsuccessful. A second obstetrician who arrived then cut a fourth-degree episiotomy and rotated the fetus’s head, which led to vaginal delivery within 30 seconds. The infant was neurologically devastated and died at 9.5 months.

In suing, the family claimed the physician failed to factor in the infant’s weight, more than 10 pounds, when deciding on a delivery method and was negligent in the failure to perform an immediate cesarean section when meconium staining was encountered.

  • The case settled for $765,908.
The cases in this column are selected by the editors of OBG Management from Medical Malpractice Verdicts, Settlements & Experts, with permission of the editor, Lewis Laska, of Nashville, Tenn ( The available information about the cases presented here is sometimes incomplete; thus, pertinent details of a given situation may be unavailable. Moreover, the cases may or may not have merit. Nevertheless, these cases represent the types of clinical situations that typically result in litigation and are meant to illustrate nationwide variation in jury verdicts and awards.

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