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Boy diagnosed with cerebral palsy a day after his birth

Type:

Verdict-Defendant

State:

Texas

Venue:

Cameron County

Court:

Cameron County District Court, 103rd

Injury Type(s):

brain-cerebral palsy paralysis/quadriplegia-spastic quadriplegia

Case Type:

Medical Malpractice - Birth Injury, Negligent Treatment

Case Name:

Leigh Anne Cornelison and David W. Hartmann, individually and as next friends of Adam Craig Cornelison, a minor v. Harlingen Medical Center, Harlingen Medical Center LP d.b.a. Harlingen Medical Center, Harlingen Obsetrics and Gynecology P.A., Uvaldo Cantu Jr., Harlingen Hospital Management Inc., HMC Management Co. LLC, Harlingen HMC Management LLC, Ruben M. Torres Jr., Nivia Nieves Fisch, Nilda J. Salinas and Myrna Apoa Oblimar, No. 2011-DCL-05952

Date:

September 20, 2013

Parties

Plaintiff(s):

David W. Hartmann (Male), 

Adam Craig Cornelison (Male), 

Leigh Anne Cornelison (Female, 33 Years)

Plaintiff Attorney(s):

Ernesto Gamez; Law Offices of Ernest Gamez Jr.; Brownsville, TX, for David W. Hartmann, Adam Craig Cornelison, Leigh Anne Cornelison ■ Mark R. Mueller; Mueller Law Office; Austin, TX, for David W. Hartmann, Adam Craig Cornelison, Leigh Anne Cornelison ■ Ed McAninch; Law Offices of Edwin L. McAninch; Houston, TX, for David W. Hartmann, Adam Craig Cornelison, Leigh Anne Cornelison

Plaintiff Expert(s):

Jill Hunter; M.D.; Pediatric Neurology; Houston, TX called by Ernesto Gamez, Mark R. Mueller, Ed McAninch ■ John Seals; M.D.; Pediatric Neurology; San Antonio, TX called by Ernesto Gamez, Mark R. Mueller, Ed McAninch ■ Barry Schifrin; M.D.; OB-GYN; Sherman Oaks, CA called by Ernesto Gamez, Mark R. Mueller, Ed McAninch ■ Terry Arnold; R.N.; Life Care Planning; Houston, TX called by Ernesto Gamez, Mark R. Mueller, Ed McAninch ■ Judith Poole; Ph.D., R.N.C.; Labor & Delivery; Charlotte, NC called by Ernesto Gamez, Mark R. Mueller, Ed McAninch ■ Thomas Mayor; Ph.D.; Economics; Houston, TX called by Ernesto Gamez, Mark R. Mueller, Ed McAninch

Defendant(s):

Ruben M. Torres, 

Nilda J. Salinas, 

Uvaldo Cantu Jr., 

Myrna Apoa Oblimar, 

Nivia Nieves Fisch, 

HMC Management Co. LLC, 

Harlingen Medical Center, 

Harlingen HMC Managemet LLC, 

Harlingen Hospital Management Inc., 

Harlingen Obsetrics & Gynecology PA

Defense Attorney(s):

Ken Patterson; Hiersche, Hayward, Drakeley & Urbach, P.C.; Addison, TX, for Ruben M. Torres, Uvaldo Cantu Jr., Nivia Nieves Fisch, Harlingen Obsetrics & Gynecology PA ■ Scott T. Clark; Adams & Graham; Harlingen, TX, for Nilda J. Salinas, Myrna Apoa Oblimar, HMC Management Co. LLC, Harlingen Medical Center, Harlingen HMC Managemet LLC, Harlingen Hospital Management Inc. ■ Will Hughes; Adams & Graham, L.L.P.; Harlingen, TX, for Nilda J. Salinas, Myrna Apoa Oblimar, HMC Management Co. LLC, Harlingen Medical Center, Harlingen HMC Managemet LLC

Defendent Expert(s):

James Balducci; OB-GYN; Phoenix, AZ called by Scott T. Clark, Will Hughes ■ Jerry Tomasovic; Pediatric Neurology; San Antonio, TX called by Scott T. Clark, Will Hughes ■ Angela Anderson; Midwifery; Salt Lake City, UT called by Scott T. Clark, Will Hughes ■ Robert Castro; Neonatology; Salinas, CA called by Scott T. Clark, Will Hughes ■ Robert Zimmerman; Pediatric Neurology; Philadelphia, PA called by Scott T. Clark, Will Hughes

Insurer(s):

Pro Assurance Harlingen Obsetrics and Gynecology P.A., Uvaldo Cantu Jr.,Nivia Nieves Fisch, Rubem M. Torres Zurich American Insurance Co. Harlingen Medical Center, Nilda J. Salinas, Myrna Apoa Oblimar

Facts:

On Sept. 10, 2009, after 36 hours of labor, plaintiff Leigh Anne Cornelison delivered plaintiff Adam Cornelison, at Harlingen General Hospital. Medical personnel involved in Cornelison's care included midwife Nivia Fisch, nurses Nilda Salinas and Myrna Oblimar, and obstetrician Dr. Uvaldo Cantu Jr. Adam was subsequently diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Cornelison and David Hartmann, individually and on behalf of their son, sued Harlingen General, Harlingen Obstetrics and Gynecology, Fisch, Cantu, Salinas, Oblimar and Harlingen obstetrician Dr. Ruben Torres claiming malpractice. Fisch, Cantu and Harlingen Obstetrics settled in mediation prior to trial for confidential amounts. Torres denied he took part in the delivery and was nonsuited prior to trial. Hartmann was also nonsuited prior to trial. The plaintiffs' obstetrics experts testified that the defendants administered an excessive dose of Pitocin, a labor-inducing drug, causing an excessive number of contractions without sufficient resting tone between contractions. Plaintiff's counsel maintained that this caused excessive compression of Adam Cornelison's skull, and plaintiff's neurology expert testified the compression caused ischemic brain changes and his cerebral palsy. Plaintiff's neuroradiology expert testified these changes are visible on brain imaging taken after the delivery. The defendants denied malpractice. The defense obstetrics and midwifery experts testified the Pitocin dose was appropriate and that the defendants' actions throughout the delivery met the standard of care. Defense counsel argued that initial tests on Adam showed no problems and symptoms did not appear until 31 hours after the delivery. The defense neurology expert testified that Adam's cerebral palsy was not caused by skull compression or any actions related to the delivery but by a perinatal arterial stroke. The defense neuroradiology expert denied the brain images showed ischemic brain changes and testified the damages seen were consistent with a stroke. The original record of the fetal heart monitor used in the delivery was discarded by nursing staff following the delivery, and the plaintiffs were granted a spoliation instruction based on this. A copy of the record was admitted into evidence.

Injury:

Adam was diagnosed with spastic dyskinetic quadriplegic cerebral palsy. He experiences severe spasms and seizures affecting both arms and legs. The plaintiffs' life care planning expert testified that he is completely disabled and will require 24-hour care for the rest of his life, and put future medical expenses at $18.5 million. The plaintiffs' economics expert put future lost income at $2.8 million. The plaintiffs sought $25 million for past and future pain and suffering, physical impairment, medical expenses and lost income.

Result:

The jury found that the defendants did not commit malpractice.

Trial Information:

Judge:

Janet L. Leal

Jury Vote:

12-0

Editor's Comment:

This report is based on information that was provided by defense counsel. Plaintiff's counsel did not respond to calls for comment.