I am considering whether to file a lawsuit after my child was diagnosed with Erb’s Palsy. Am I alone?

When a woman and child experience a traumatic birth and delivery, Erb’s Palsy is one type of injury that can result. This condition is a type of brachial plexus nerve injury that affects movement and sensation in the arm. When the birth involves pulling, stretching, or tearing of the upper nerves that make up the brachial plexus network, some doctors apply too much force to the neck and shoulders when attempting to complete the delivery. Erb’s Palsy may be the unfortunate result. These injuries often happen during breech or otherwise difficult labors.

3 Recent Cases Involving Erb’s Palsy

After experiencing difficult labors leaving their children with birth injuries such as Erb’s Palsy, some women pursue legal action against their health care providers. If the health care providers were negligent when fulfilling their duties, they may be liable. Lawsuits involving physician negligence and Erb’s Palsy are occurring regularly. The following is a general overview of some of the more recent cases being filed:

  1. An Illinois woman alleges that her doctor and other healthcare providers at Alton Memorial Hospital provided her with negligent care during the delivery of her son, resulting in permanent birth injuries. The child now suffers from Erb’s Palsy. In the case, the woman reports that she was induced at the hospital on February 20, 2007. Her physician attempted a vacuum-assisted delivery. Despite using this tool, he was unable to deliver the baby’s posterior shoulder from the birth canal. The baby developed Erb’s Palsy, brachial plexus injuries, and a broken clavicle as a result of the traumatic delivery.
  2. A mother in Mississippi accused her physician of negligence leading to Erb’s palsy in her child. In late October, the mother filed a lawsuit against the doctor who attended the birth of her daughter. She also filed suit against the hospital where the birth occurred. In her suit, the woman accuses the doctor and the hospital of negligence that resulted in her daughter becoming permanently disabled. She was admitted to the hospital on November 7, 2012, to give birth. During the course of her labor, complications arose. The woman asserts that her medical team failed to recognize or determine the true size of her baby. In addition, the team allegedly did not contemplate using alternative birthing methods to keep the mother and child safe, such as a Caesarian section. Further, the medical team applied fundal pressure to the woman’s abdomen in an attempt to speed up the delivery process. The attending physician also reportedly pulled on the infant’s head in an attempt to get him out. The plaintiff in the case claims that the medical team breached the standard of care when it took these actions. As a result, she states that her daughter developed Erb’s Palsy secondary to shoulder dystocia.
  3. A Delaware woman claims that her doctor and health care providers committed medical negligence during the labor and delivery process on the day that her son was born. She states in her complaint that her son presented with shoulder dystocia during the delivery. She further claims that her physician, Dr. Peter J. Wong, applied excessive downward traction that resulted in Erb’s Palsy with C5-C6 upper trunk avulsion and suprascapular nerve injury on the child’s right side.

When an infant’s shoulder becomes wedged behind the mother’s pubic bone, this is known as shoulder dystocia. As seen in the cases above, shoulder dystocia is clearly commonly associated complications that are later linked to Erb’s Palsy. When shoulder dystocia occurs, it is crucial for physicians to take the proper actions in order to protect the mother and baby. Doctors must respond appropriately and quickly in order to prevent long-term disability to the child. Unfortunately, some do not take the proper actions, such as ordering an immediate Caesarean delivery.

If your child was diagnosed with Erb’s Palsy following a difficult labor and delivery, your physician may be responsible. It is important to take action in order to protect your family’s legal rights. We have helped many victims and their families pursue claims for compensation. We encourage you to check out our many case results to learn more.


David Hodges
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David Hodges is a founding partner of Kennedy Hodges. He focuses his practice on personal injury claims.