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Meconium Aspiration Settlement Value

cerebral palsy Maryland

If your child has suffered a birth injury and failure to properly manage meconium was the cause, your family has one chance to get compensation for the injuries your child suffered. So it is a very reasonable question to ask what the average settlement value of meconium related birth injury cases is and what your case might be worth.

The average settlement or verdict in meconium related birth injury cases in the ten example cases below is over $5 million. Setting aside how unscientific this study is, the average verdict or settlement is of little interest to you. The question you want to know is the value of your child's case.

This is not a question we can answer without the opportunity to review your child's medical records - which we are glad to do for you. But these example cases below help you better understand the range of the value of these cases. If the case sounds just like yours, can you assume the value is the same? Of course not. Still, this is a big enough sample size of result and facts to help you better understand the potential value of your case.

Settlement and Verdicts Meconium Birth Injury Cases

The meconium aspiration syndrome (MAS) refers to respiratory distress that accompanies aspiration of meconium below the vocal cords  It is not uncommon.   In as many as 15% of all pregnancies, the birth involves some level of meconium stained amniotic fluid. 

Most newborns are able to shake off any meconium complications because they do not inhale it, at least not in meaningful dose.  Babies with meconium aspiration babies inhale to much of it.  If the baby inhales thick meconium, that increase the chance of meconium aspiration syndrome. So if there is a lot of thick meconium that the baby inhales, there is the potential for a problem. If the meconium is not cleared from the baby's air passages, the doctors need to remove it for her.  If they don't, she will suffer from hypoxia.

Because meconium is so common and so rarely causes complications, doctors and nurses sometimes let their guard down and fail to see the warning signs that are there to be see.  The result is a birth injury or death that often leads to a medical malpractice lawsuit. 
  • 2017, New York: $1 Million Settlement (policy limits): mother alleged that doctors misdiagnosed fetal weight via a misread sonogram and then failed to properly suction and perform chest physical therapy after a prolonged, difficult birth. As a result of these mistakes, she claimed her baby suffered Meconium Aspiration Syndrome, resulting in brain damage and leaving him with impaired speech and cognitive delays. The parties settled the case out of court for policy limits of $1,000,000.
  • 2017, Pennsylvania: $14,484,490 Verdict. A 24-year-old pregnant woman goes to the hospital and she is admitted and she is dilated. To induce her labor, defendants rupture her membranes. This reveals thick meconium and a high dose of Pitocin is administered to increase the strength of her contractions. During the delivery process, the fetal heart rate drops extremely low. A surgical cut is done and the baby is born. At delivery, his vital signs are very low and he is unresponsive. He suffers severe brain damage. The infant's parents file this claim and allege that the Pitocin administration was improper and that the staff failed to properly monitor the woman's labor. The defendants allege that the brain injury was due to the infant having a bowel movement in utero and being exposed to meconium for over 24 hours. This "the baby was already hurt" argument is very typical. But it failed miserably here. The jury awarded the plaintiff $14,484,490.
  • 2017, New York: $4,098,267 Verdict. Plaintiff goes to the hospital as she feels her fetus has stopped moving. She is examined and electronic monitoring of the fetus's heart is non-reactive. A biophysical profile is done and the results warrant immediate induction of labor. A profile is done by another doctor, which reads that the infant is safe and the woman is discharged. The next day, she is transported to a hospital and her fetal heart monitoring results are non-reassuring. She delivers her infant via Caesarean section. The infant is bluish due to a lack of oxygen. Meconium has filled his lungs and he is not breathing. This is removed and he begins breathing again. The woman claims that her infant should have been delivered when she first went to the hospital and that a hypoxic injury to the child's brain would have been avoided. A jury agreed with the woman and awarded her $4,098,267.
    2016, Pennsylvania: $7,270,000 Settlement. A woman gives birth to her first child via emergency C-section due to a prolonged labor stage. Two years later, she becomes pregnant with her second child and seeks care from the same obstetricians. Her prenatal course is uncomplicated. She goes to the hospital to have her labor induced and to have a vaginal birth attempted. Her fetal heart rate is monitored and is reassuring. Once her membranes rupture and she is fully dilated, she attempts to deliver her infant for five hours. The infants head is finally delivered, but the nasal passages and airway are filled with thick meconium. The rest of the infant is delivered without respiratory effort, suffering birth suffocation. He is diagnosed with a lack of oxygen to the brain and suffers permanent brain injury and neurological problems. The defendants denied any negligence but settled for $7,270,000.
  • 2014, New York: $3,065,899 Settlement. A woman is under the care of defendant midwives. While giving birth to her baby, the defendants fail to convert the vaginal birth to a Cesarean section, despite signs of fetal distress including meconium staining and non-reassuring fetal heart readings. The infant suffers cerebral palsy due to oxygen deprivation as well as neurological injury. The parties settle for $3,065,899.
  • 2014, $200,000 Settlement: The baby's mother claimed she received negligent prenatal care when doctors misread her sonogram and negligently sent her home despite indications that her amniotic fluid was very low and other warnings that should have prompted an emergency delivery. The following day mother had severe preeclampsia and emergency delivery was performed. Baby suffered Meconium Aspiration Syndrome which caused damage to his brain. The case was settled for $200,000.
  • Meconium Severity Grading Infographic
  • 2014, Massachusetts:$3,250,000 Settlement. A woman goes to the hospital in labor. Upon admission, her infant's heart rate is normal. Three hours later, it is persistent but shows mild decelerations. The woman has a fever but defendants do not order antibiotics or initiate a Cesarean section. Eight hours after her admission to the hospital, the woman's infant is experiencing an accelerated heartbeat, the membrane is ruptured, and there is thick meconium present. Despite these signs, an emergency delivery is not done. The infant is not delivered via Cesarean section until 24 hours after the woman gets to the hospital. The baby suffers a lack of oxygen to her brain and her mom files this case alleging negligence in the delay in delivery of the child with fetal distress. During mediation, the parties resolved the woman's claim for $3,250,000.
  • Child During Delivery2014, Massachusetts:$1,200,000 Settlement. A woman in her 40's is pregnant and the pregnancy is considered high risk due to her age. However, her pregnancy progresses normally under a non-reactive stress tests results in the woman being admitted for induction. She was showing non-reassuring infant heart rates, so she is to have continuous fetal monitoring. During a shift change, the infant remains unmonitored for five hours. When the infant is checked on, his heart rate is shown to have dropped. He is unmonitored for another four hours. When the nurses attempt to replace the monitor, no fetal heart rate is detected. The infant is stillborn, and an autopsy reveals a fetus with meconium aspiration, indicative of fetal distress. Defendants claimed the cause of the stillborn fetus is unknown, but agreed to settle for $1,200,000.
  • 2014, New York:$200,000 Settlement. Plaintiff receives prenatal care from the defendant hospital. She is admitted for an emergency C-section due to high blood pressure, and a non-reassuring sonogram is done. The infant sustains hypoxic brain damage, meconium aspiration syndrome, and chronic lung disease during delivery. The city health department and hospital settle with the family for $200,000, while the claim against the specific hospital center remains open.
  • 2013, New Jersey: $9,610,475 Verdict. A woman is giving birth to her son at 39 weeks pregnant under her primary obstetrician. Before delivery, a non-stress test is given. After the birth, the infant is treated for cerebral palsy and meconium aspiration syndrome, resulting in spastic quadriplegia, cortical blindness, and the inability to speak. The parents file this claim alleging the failure to monitor fetal growth and failure to diagnose placental insufficiency. The defendants denied any malpractice, but a jury held the defendants liable. They awarded the plaintiffs $9,610,475.
  • 2013, Michigan:$3,900,000 Settlement. Plaintiff goes to the hospital for prenatal care. Ultrasounds suggest two different gestational ages for the child that are one week apart. At 29-weeks pregnant, she is diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Due to her gestational diabetes, labor is induced between 39-40 weeks gestation, without consideration of the different ultrasound ages of the fetus. During delivery, meconium is present and suggests fetal distress. Non-reassuring heart tones develop, and an emergency C-section is finally performed. The infant is born with a low heart rate and not breathing. She experiences seizure activity. The mother claims that her fetus wasn't able to tolerate labor and she needed a C-section due to fetal distress. The parties settled for $3.9 million.
  • 2013, Michigan:$2,450,000 Settlement. At 41-weeks pregnant, a woman gives birth to her infant via an emergency C-section. He is severely depressed and seizure-like activity is recorded. An MRI reveals symptoms due to hypoxic sequela. He is diagnosed with cerebral palsy and quadriparesis. The woman files this claim, alleging that the spontaneous rupture of her membranes with meconium stained fluid and onset of non-reassuring heart traces required the C-section to be done sooner than it was. Defendants assert that if there was a delay, it was not the cause of the infant's injuries. The parties settled the plaintiff's claims for $2,450,000.
Getting a Lawyer for Your Malpractice Claim

Call 800-553-8082 if your child has suffered a birth injury and you believe meconium exposure may have been the reason for the harm. Our law firm has compassionate lawyers who have a track record of success in wrongful death and catastrophic injury cases. You can also get a FREE no-obligation online case evaluation.

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