Chicago Birth Injury Lawyers
HM&M and the Hill Family: The Search for the Truth
Jennifer Hill was in her forty-second week of pregnancy on October 26, 1998, when tests performed by her obstetrician warned of potential danger to Ryan if he was not delivered soon. However, the obstetrician never offered Jennifer and her husband, Ted Hill, the choice of having their son delivered by Cesarean section delivery at that time. Instead, the obstetrician told the Hills to go home and come back to the hospital the next day for a routine labor and delivery.
The next day, Jennifer Hill and her husband arrived at the hospital for induction of labor as they were told by the doctor. Instead of heeding the warning signs from the prior tests that showed Ryan needed to be delivered soon, Jennifer’s doctor ordered the hospital’s nurses to give the drug Pitocin to Jennifer to stimulate contractions.
However, over nineteen hours of labor, Jennifer developed excessively frequent contractions as a result of the Pitocin—a condition known as tachysystole. The hospital’s written policy on use of the Pitocin stated that nurses should reduce or discontinue the drug in the event of tachysystole. However, the hospital’s nurses failed to follow the written policy, and continued to give the drug to Jennifer in spite of the presence of tachysystole for over five hours prior to delivery.
When Ryan’s fetal heart rate became abnormal after many hours of labor—a sign of fetal distress and a lack of oxygen to the baby—Jennifer’s doctor unnecessarily delayed cesarean section delivery of Ryan, and instead waited for over an hour while the obstetrician made unsuccessful attempts to deliver Ryan through use of forceps and a vacuum extractor. By the time the obstetrician performed a cesarean section delivery, it was too late to prevent Ryan’s brain injury from lack of oxygen.
After Ryan was born, Ted and Jennifer noticed that he was suffering from seizures. Nobody at the hospital would tell them what had happened to their son, and they had no idea that their son had suffered a permanent injury because of the events at the hospital.
Justice for Ryan.
Ryan now suffers from seizures and cognitive deficits as a result of his brain injury. He attends Special Education classes, and relies on his family for help in many areas of his daily life.
As the severity of Ryan’s brain injury became evident during his childhood, the Hill family sought help from a trial lawyer to investigate how Ryan’s injury occurred, and if it could have been prevented. Medical experts reviewed the care given to Jennifer and Ryan Hill, and determined that preventable negligence had occurred.
In 2006, Ted and Jennifer Hill filed suit on behalf of Ryan against the hospital and its obstetrician. In late 2008, another lawyer referred the Hills to Hurley McKenna & Mertz, P.C. Chris Hurley and Mark McKenna met with Ted, Jennifer and Ryan, and agreed to take their case to trial. They spent several years investigating what happened to Ryan during labor and aggressively getting the case ready for trial: obtaining and reviewing evidence, deposing witnesses, hiring expert witnesses, and engaging in the legal and medical research.
Before trial, neither the hospital nor the insurance company for the obstetrician ever offered to compensate Ryan and his family for Ryan’s injuries. Thus, the case was forced to go to a jury trial.
On September 24, 2012, a Cook County jury returned a verdict on behalf of Ryan Hill and against the hospital and its obstetrician in the amount of $14,128,000. The jury awarded Ryan $9,128,000 for his past and future medical expenses and lost wages, and $5,000,000 for his past and future pain, suffering and loss of a normal life.
The compensation Hurley McKenna & Mertz, P.C. obtained for Ryan has allowed the Hill family to plan for a future where Ryan has as much care as possible.