A Philadelphia jury recently handed down a $12 million plaintiffs’ verdict in a case
involving a child who was severely brain damaged due to a umbilical cord prolapse.
Donald and Roseann Hoffer, who live in Lafayette Hill, Montgomery County, sued the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and various medical professionals back in the spring of 2010 over birth-related injuries their now 3-and-a-half-year-old son, Braydon, sustained as a result of alleged obstetric negligence the year prior.
An amended complaint was filed about a year later, in April 2011, the court docket in the case shows.
The jury verdict was reached Nov. 2 after a two-week trial at the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, according to the plaintiffs’ firm and court records.
The parents were represented by Jim Beasley, Jr. and Catherine “Kit” Rothenberger of The Beasley Firm.
Roseann Hoffer was 38 weeks pregnant when the baby went into a “breech” position, which is when the child is feet-down as opposed to head-down, according to background information on the case.
The couple’s midwife, Carol O’Donoghue, noticed the breech during a routine prenatal visit, but failed to contact a physician to attempt to rotate the child back to a head-first position, according to the plaintiff’s firm.
The lawsuit had claimed that Roseann Hoffer was discharged without care and never given any warning that she was at risk of what is called an umbilical cord prolapse, which is when the umbilical cord gets squeezed, cutting off blood supply and oxygen to the fetus.
The day before Roxeann Hoffer’s scheduled cesarean section, the woman’s water broke and the umbilical cord prolapsed, falling out of her vagina and hanging between her legs, according to her law firm.
Hoffer was rushed to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, but doctors did not succeed in preventing brain damage to the child.
The boy ended up suffering from hypoxia, or a lack of oxygen to the brain, and he had to be hospitalized, the firm stated.
Beasley announced that after two days of deliberations, the Philadelphia jury awarded the plaintiffs $1.5 million in lost earnings, $3 million in pain and suffering, and $8.1 million in future medical expenses.
The plaintiffs’ lawyers told the jury that the midwife was negligent in failing to recognize the risk associated with breeching, and failing to bring in an obstetrician or maternal-fetal specialist to attempt to correct the problem.
The midwife and the hospital were represented at trial by attorney Kathleen M. Kramer of Marshall, Dennehey, Warner, Coleman & Goggin.
The trial was presided over by Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Gregory E. Smith.
The case was Hoffer et al. v. Trustees of The University of Pennsylvania, ID no. 100501406.