Stillborn birth blamed on medical malpractice during labor. $500K. Riverside County.
17-year-old claims medical malpractice when nursing staff does not keep fetus monitored during labor.
- Case Name: Minor plaintiff mother v. Parkview Community Hospital Medical Center
- Court and Case Number: Riverside County Superior Court / RIC1700645
- Date of Verdict or Judgment: Tuesday, October 23, 2018
- Date Action was Filed: Thursday, January 12, 2017
- Type of Action: Medical Malpractice
- Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Daniel Ottolia
- Plaintiffs: Minor plaintiff mother, 17.
- Defendants: Parkview Community Hospital Medical Center
- Type of Result: Jury Verdict
- Gross Verdict or Award: $500,000
- Net Verdict or Award: $254,600 after MICRA limitation.
- Economic Damages:
- Non-Economic Damages:
- Trial or Arbitration Time: 7 days.
- Jury Deliberation Time: 5 hours.
- Jury Polls: 12-0
- Attorney for the Plaintiff:
Hodes Milman, LLP, by Benjamin T. Ikuta, Irvine.
- Attorney for the Defendant:
Hershorin & Henry, LLP, by Paula F. Henry, Lake Forest.
- Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):
Howard C .Mandel, M.D., obstetrics/gynecology, Los Angeles.
- Defendant's Medical Expert(s):
D. Gene Parks, M.D., obstetrics/gynecology, Marina del Rey.
Facts and Background
- Facts and Background:
Plaintiff, 17 years old at the time of the incident, had previously been hospitalized at defendant Parkview Community Hospital Medical Center from September 24, 2015 to September 29 due to a fainting episode. At that time, she was in her third trimester of an unplanned pregnancy and had been diagnosed with mild preeclampsia.
On October 17 plaintiff returned to Parkview due to constant and continuous pain at approximately 8 a.m. At around 9:30 a.m., while plaintiff was in triage, plaintiff’s treating OBGYN ordered by telephone that plaintiff be allowed to walk for two hours to induce labor. Around 10:17 a.m., plaintiff started to walk, away from the fetal heart rate monitor.
When plaintiff returned from her walk at around noon, the nurses and treating OBGYN could not find the baby’s heartbeat and the OBGYN ordered an emergency C-section. The baby was born without a heartbeat, was not breathing, and was stillborn. The cause of the stillborn birth was a 90% placental abruption.
- Plaintiff's Contentions:
Plaintiff contended that the attending nurse did not appreciate or report a concerning deceleration (drop in the baby’s heartbeat) around 9:10 a.m. Plaintiff also contends that the nurse did not adequately monitor the fetal heart monitor for extended periods of time. Also, that plaintiff had two high blood pressure readings at 9:12 and 9:14 that were very concerning for a preeclamptic patient. At trial, the treating OBGYN testified that he was not told of the deceleration or the hypertension and that, had he been told, he probably would not have allowed her to walk. Plaintiff emphasized that preeclamptic patients are far more likely to suffer from a placental abruption than normal pregnancies.
Plaintiff also contended that had she not been allowed to walk, she would have been continually monitored. Accordingly, when the placental abruption occurred, a Cesarean section would have been ordered far earlier and there would have been time to deliver the baby safely. Plaintiff pointed out that after birth, resuscitation efforts and the administration of epinephrine caused a very brief heart rate of 122 and oxygenation rate of 54% in the baby. Plaintiff argued that this showed that if the baby had more time and was more closely monitored, the baby would have survived.
- Defendant's Contentions:
Defendant contended that its nurses met the standard of care at all times. Defendant alleged that the nurse told the OBGYN of the hypertensive reads. As for the fetal heart monitor, defendant contended that the nurse appreciated the deceleration, but it occurred shortly after the patient vomited. The vomiting, according to defendant, was an acceptable explanation for the deceleration. As such, the deceleration did not have to be reported to the OBGYN. This was particularly true as the baby’s heartbeat rebounded to acceptable and healthy levels at 9:10 a.m.
Defendant also contended that plaintiff suffered from a massive 90% placental abruption and that even if she had been monitored, the baby would not have survived given the severity of the abruption.
Injuries and Other Damages
With the exception of $4,600 in funeral and burial costs, plaintiff only asserted non-economic damages for mental distress and suffering. In closing argument, plaintiff requested $114,000 in past non-economic damages and $340,000 in future non-economic damages.
Demands and Offers
- Plaintiff §998 Demand: $149,999
- Plaintiff Final Demand before Trial: $149,999
- Plaintiff Demand during Trial: $175,000/$75,000 high/low demand.
- Defendant §998 Offer: None.
- Defendant Final Offer before Trial: None.
- Defendant Offer during Trial: $120,000/$40,000 high/low offer.