Jury Awards $1.85 Maryland Wrongful Death Verdict to Couple Over Son’s Fatal Birthing Injury

A Montgomery County, Maryland jury has awarded John and Sandra Ketterman $1.85 million for their newborn’s wrongful death. Their son, Benjamin, died two days after he was born in July 2005.

The Kettermans had accused Dr. Leonard Bienkowski of negligently using vacuum extraction during their son’s delivery at Frederick Memorial hospital. In their Maryland wrongful death complaint, the couple contended that the doctor neglected to follow the standards of medical care and failed to warn them about the potential dangers associated with the procedure. They also claimed that Bienkowski opted to use this process even though their son wasn’t in distress. The Kettermans have said that if they had known of the risks, they would have opted for the doctor to deliver their son via emergency cesarean section.

Benjamin sustained a fatal birth injury when his head got stuck in the birth canal during delivery. The Maryland jury awarded $100,000 for the newborn’s pain and suffering before he died, $752,000 for economic damages, including funeral costs and medical expenses, and $500, 000 to each parent for their suffering.

Vacuum Extraction

During vacuum extraction, suction is applied to the child’s head to accelerate delivery and move the baby through the birth canal. Vacuum extraction is a procedure that can be used when the baby is in distress. While vacuum extraction is safer than other procedures, serious injuries can result, including traumatic brain injuries, bruises, a brain hemorrhage, cerebral palsy, shoulder dystocia, intracranial bleeding, erb’s palsy, jaundice, and developmental issues.

Birthing injuries can be grounds for a Maryland birthing malpractice lawsuit if your baby sustains injuries related to his or her birth. Parents may have grounds to sue a medical provider for wrongful death if their baby dies because of medical malpractice.

Couple wins $1.85 million judgment in child death, Washington Examiner/AP, August 2, 2009
Jury awards parents $1.85 million in infant’s death, WTOP.com, July 31, 2009
Related Web Resources:
Vacuum Extraction, Is it Safe?, iVillage
Birth Trauma, eMedicine Pediatrics

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