Home Videos of child birth can sway a jury in Birth Injury cases

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Home videos taken in the delivery room are particularly worrisome for doctors, hospitals and defense lawyers because they pick up actions that a still camera might not and the sound can make a situation seem worse than it is, The New York Times reported.

“The first consideration for a trial attorney is how this plays to a jury,” said Paul Myre, a lawyer in St. Louis who has defended doctors and hospitals in malpractice cases for 25 years. He told The Times that video could help hospitals or hurt them but that jurors often sympathized with parents.

In one case in which he was involved, a man on the jury fainted when watching a simple instructional video.

“Just a normal childbirth can look fairly traumatic to a layperson,” Myre said. He said he defended a doctor in a case in which a video showed that his client “had done everything right,” but the jury still felt “the child needed to be taken care of.”

In another case, this one reported in a 1998 article in The Journal of Family Practice, a father’s recording picked up complaints by nurses that a doctor would not get off the phone to attend to a delivery. It also caught warnings from the fetal monitor, providing an ominous soundtrack.

Another time, a father taped a complicated delivery and then pretended to be congratulating the clinicians while recording their responses about the complications. Those responses were later used as evidence against them.

Matthew Dudley, a lawyer who won a $2.3 million settlement against a hospital in Illinois after his client’s baby was born with shoulder problems and permanent injury, said that without video, he probably would not have won the settlement. And, he told the paper, some trial lawyers are less willing to take on such cases when there is no video, adding to the reasons for hospitals to ban it.

Attorneys of Ross Feller Casey, LLP has built a remarkable record of victories in Birth Injury related cases, amassing a long list of seven- and eight-figure verdicts and settlements. They include:

$22 million verdict in a birth injury case involving blood arriving late for a transfusion
$12 million recovery in a birth injury case
$8 million settlement for a child who suffered a brain injury due to a delay in delivery
$7 million recovery for a child left with cerebral palsy as a result of obstetrical negligence
$7 million settlement for a woman who died just after delivering a baby
$6 million settlement for an infant who suffered brain damage because a nurse midwife and nurses failed to manage fetal distress during labor
$5.5 million recovery for a child who was brain injured at birth because an obstetrician failed to recognize signs of placental abruption
$5.5 million settlement for the family of a 23-year-old woman who died after giving birth to her daughter

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