Published on:

Lawsuit concerning Erb’s palsy and episiotomy complications during labor. J. G. v. Michael Ihemaguba, M.D. 2016 N.Y. Slip Op. 30899 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2016)


The case centers around the medical decisions made by doctors at St. Barnabas Hospital and their associated OB/GYN practice and shoulder dystocia. Shoulder dystocia is a birth complication where the baby’s shoulders get stuck inside the mother’s pelvis after the head has been delivered. This can occur during vaginal birth and requires immediate medical intervention to prevent injury to both the mother and the baby. The condition poses risks such as damage to the baby’s brachial plexus nerves, which can lead to a condition known as Erb’s palsy, characterized by weakness or paralysis of the arm. Managing shoulder dystocia often involves specific maneuvers by the delivering practitioner to safely release the baby’s shoulders and complete the birth.

Background Facts
On July 2, 2011, the plaintiff, a 35-year-old woman who was 38 weeks pregnant and had a history of giving birth to large babies, presented to St. Barnabas Hospital (SBH) following a spontaneous rupture of membranes. She had previously delivered three children weighing between 8 lbs 8 oz and 12 lbs 8 oz. Due to her history and current pregnancy conditions, she was considered at a potentially higher risk for complications during delivery. During the early hours of July 3, 2011, Dr. Michael Ihemaguba, the on-call obstetrician at SBH, assessed the plaintiff. After conducting a series of evaluations, including maneuvers to estimate the baby’s size and position and a standard Shoulder Dystocia Assessment, Dr. Ihemaguba concluded that the plaintiff did not exhibit any of the four risk factors typically associated with shoulder dystocia, a condition where the baby’s shoulders become lodged inside the mother’s pelvis, hindering delivery. At the end of his shift at 8:00 a.m., Dr. Ihemaguba transferred care to Dr. Rodney Capiro, providing him with all pertinent information about the patient’s condition and the assessments conducted. This handover was critical in the continuity of care and the subsequent medical decisions made during the delivery process. The baby suffered multiple injuries at birth, including a shoulder dystocia that resulted in a permanent brachial plexus injury known as Erb’s palsy.

Whether the defendants, Dr. Ihemaguba, Dr. Capiro, and their associated medical practices, provided care that fell below the accepted standard, thereby causing the injuries claimed.

The court granted Dr. Ihemaguba’s motion for summary judgment, effectively dismissing him from the case based on the evidence that he adhered to medical standards during his brief involvement. However, the court denied Dr. Capiro’s motion for summary judgment due to conflicting expert testimonies about his management of the delivery.

The court’s decision was influenced by the detailed expert testimonies from both sides. Dr. Ihemaguba was cleared of liability due to the lack of evidence showing negligence during his pre-delivery care. Conversely, Dr. Capiro faced scrutiny over his decision-making during the delivery. The court found that while the affirmation of Dr. Marchbein established, prima facie, that Dr. Capiro did not depart from the standard of care in his treatment of the plaintiffs and that his care and treatment did not cause the claimed injuries, the opposing expert’s opinion raised material issues of fact. This opposing expert argued that Dr. Capiro deviated from accepted medical standards by not offering or performing a cesarean section given the patient’s specific risk factors, and by the manner in which he conducted the vacuum extraction and handled the shoulder dystocia. These contentions were sufficient to deny Dr. Capiro’s motion for summary judgment, indicating that there were substantial questions about whether his actions met the standard of care and contributed to the injuries sustained. Thus, the case against Dr. Capiro was allowed to proceed to determine the merits of these claims.

If you or someone you know has experienced complications during childbirth that may be due to medical negligence, it is critical to seek the advice of a skilled New York birth injury lawyer who can help evaluate the details of the case, engage the right medical experts, and represent your interests in court to help ensure that justice is served and appropriate compensation is secured. If you are seeking representation or need advice on a possible birth injury claim, do not hesitate to contact our knowledgeable team at Stephen Bilkis & Associates. Our dedicated professionals are committed to advocating for the rights of parents and their children affected by medical malpractice.

Published on:

Comments are closed.

Contact Information