Court affirms dismissal of child's malpractice claim against Sparrow Hospital and "incredible" physician
James Oegema sued Patricia Bell, her OB Gyn practice and Sparrow Hospital, arguing that the child suffered permanent injury when her shoulder became impacted at birth. The defendant doctor was called to the delivery room, where she "witnessed" the shoulder dystocia; the family claimed she exerted excessive traction on the child's head and neck in attempting to deliver the child, causing permanent, severe injury to the child's brachial plexus nerves and disabling her right arm.
After a trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the medical providers. The trial judge overturned the verdict and ordered a new trial, however, finding that the doctor's testimony that she performed the McRobert's Maneuver "incredible" The Defendants appealed, and the Court of Appeals reversed the trial judge and ordered the verdict in favor of the doctor and hospital reinstated. After the trial judge followed this instruction, the family appealed the outcome.
Reviewing the issues raised by the family's attorneys, the Court ruled that it was not error for the Defense to talking about the neurological injuries that the child could have suffered if her delivery had been delayed long enough to result in hypoxia. The Court also held that even if the defense attorney's remarks during closing argument were improper, they were not so prejudicial as to require overturning the verdict.