Chicago Birth Injury Attorneys
HM&M and the Saragosa Family: Overcoming Adversity
Amelia Saragosa—teenage mom.
In January of 1990, Amelia Saragosa was only 19 years-old and scared. She was pregnant, but too afraid to tell her parents. She had never been to a doctor for prenatal care, and she had no health insurance. When she went into labor, she went to the only place she could think of—Cook County Hospital.
As Amelia waited in the hospital’s labor and delivery unit, a resident obstetrician performed an amniotomy, or artificial rupture of the mother’s membranes. As a result, an umbilical cord prolapse occurred, resulting in compression of Amelia’s umbilical cord between her baby’s head and the birth canal. An emergency cesarean section delivery of the baby became necessary. However, more than 40 minutes passed before an obstetrician performed the emergency cesarean section delivery for Amelia.
When Amelia’s son—Gabriel—was finally delivered, he was in shock due to lack of oxygen as a result of the umbilical cord prolapse. Laboratory tests showed that Gabriel had experienced hypoxia—a severe loss of oxygen—during the minutes before his delivery. Hypoxia is a known cause of brain damage.
Living with Cerebral Palsy.
When Amelia was discharged from Cook County Hospital, she had no idea that her baby had suffered a permanent injury because of the events at the hospital.
When Gabriel failed to meet his milestones, and began experiencing seizures as a toddler, Amelia took her son to experts in pediatric neurology. Only then did Amelia learn that her son Gabriel had a permanent brain injury, and that there was a diagnosis for his condition—cerebral palsy. Gabriel would have difficulty walking, talking and caring for himself for the rest of his life.
Seeking justice for Gabriel.
In late 2008, other lawyers referred Amelia and Gabriel to Hurley McKenna & Mertz, P.C. Chris Hurley and Mark McKenna met with Amelia and Gabriel, and agreed to take their case to trial. They spent the next year aggressively getting the case ready for trial: obtaining and reviewing evidence, deposing witnesses, hiring expert witnesses, and engaging in the legal and medical research.
At trial, Hurley McKenna & Mertz, P.C. was able to prove that Cook County Hospital’s resident obstetrician fell below the standard of care when she performed the amniotomy on Amelia Saragosa, because there was no medical indication that warranted the artificial rupture of membranes. In fact, at the time of the rupture of the membranes, all of the charting in the medical records indicated that the fetus was doing fine. HM&M also proved at trial that once the resident obstetrician caused the umbilical cord prolapse, Gabriel needed to be delivered on an emergency basis within twenty minutes—the delay of forty-one minutes led to Gabriel’s brain damage and cerebral palsy. At the end of the trial, Hurley McKenna & Mertz, P.C. obtained a $9,000,000 jury verdict for Gabriel.
A new life for Gabriel.
Gabriel will never be able to work, and he needs help with most activities of daily living. The compensation Hurley McKenna & Mertz, P.C. obtained for Gabriel has allowed the Saragosas to purchase handicapped-accessible housing and transportation. Gabriel now has a brand-new wheelchair, and a computer he can use to communicate with his friends. When we see Gabriel out at his favorite place--White Sox games—cheering on his team, we are proud that we were able to help Gabriel pursue his dream of a life of independence and dignity.