Cerebral Palsy Malpractice Lawsuit Filed Under Federal Tort Claims Act

According to allegations raised in a lawsuit filed against the U.S. government, prolonged use of vacuum extraction during delivery caused a Michigan child to suffer a severe brain injury, resulting in a diagnosis of cerebral palsy.  

The complaint (PDF) was filed by Nicole White in the U.S. District Court Western District of Michigan on October 3, on behalf of herself and her son, Landon.

White indicates that her child suffered the cerebral palsy birth injury due to negligent treatment by Dr. Jeanne Haberer, who was a federal government employee providing medical care at East Jordan Family Health Center and Charlevoix Area Hospital in Michigan.

According to allegations presented under the Federal Tort Claims Act, Haberer failed to exercise the appropriate standards of medical care during the labor and delivery, failing to perform an episiotomy to aid in the birth, and by performing a prolonged vacuum extraction procedure while the baby was in distress and suffering from a lack of oxygen.

The vacuum extraction was not performed properly, according to the lawsuit, which indicates that Haberer should have attempted to use forceps to aid in the delivery, and that she did not recognize the signs of fetal distress and abnormal fetal heart rhythm earlier in the procedure.

White’s son was born on January 16, 2011, and subsequently diagnosed with cerebral palsy, which is a permanent disability associated with a lack of oxygen to the brain before, during or after the birth of a child. The condition causes severe developmental problems and seizures, and White indicates that her son will require medical care for the entirety of his life, the lawsuit indicates.

“(M)ore likely than not, had delivery been accomplished in an appropriate and timely manner, minor Plaintiff, Landon White, would have been spared the prolonged hypoxic/ischemic in utero and would have avoided permanent adverse neurological developmental sequelae he experienced,” the lawsuit states.

The East Jordan Family Health Center, and Dr. Haberer, were funded by the Department of Health and Human Services, according to allegations raised in the complaint. According to procedures under the Federal Tort Claims Act, White first presented her case to the health department in November 2015, but indicates that the claim was denied in June 2016.

Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that is often caused by a birth injury or medical mistake that may have been prevented by the exercise of the proper standards of medical care. In those cases, many families have successfully obtained financial compensation for the child through a cerebral palsy malpractice lawsuit.

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