Chicago, IL Birth Injury Attorneys
An Unfortunate Case of Doctor Negligence
Hurley McKenna & Mertz, P.C. (HM&M) is proud to represent Veniscia Humphrey and her daughter, Teniscia Humphrey-Lee. In 2008, when Veniscia was thirty-weeks pregnant with her first and only child, she began to experience contractions, vaginal bleeding and severe abdominal pain—all signs of a dangerous condition called placental abruption. When a placental abruption occurs, the placenta separates from the wall of the uterus before birth, depriving the baby of precious oxygen. The treatment for a placental abruption is immediate cesarean section delivery of the baby.
When Veniscia experienced the placental abruption, she immediately went to a Chicago-area hospital for care. Hospital nurses applied a fetal heart monitor at 11:52 am, but could not detect the baby's fetal heart tones, and immediately called in Veniscia's personal obstetrician for assistance. The obstetrician, an employee of a federally funded clinic, arrived and at approximately a 12:08 pm, performed an ultrasound evaluation of the baby.
Veniscia was devastated when the obstetrician told her that her baby was dead. When questioned by HM&M's attorneys, the obstetrician admitted:
“I put the scanner down, I should say put the transducer down, and looked at her eye to eye. Made eye contact and told her that I didn't see any heart tones at all, and I thought the baby wasn't alive. That's the phrasing I used.
Of course she wailed and cried, and I patted her on the shoulder. And then she said, "Is there anything you can do?" And I said, "Well, no. I can't bring the baby back. Can't do that. I'm sorry the baby is not alive."
Veniscia's obstetrician assumed Teniscia was dead, and failed to order an immediate “crash” or emergency cesarean section. Instead, he ordered another ultrasound to confirm that Teniscia was dead. Teniscia was not dead—after 30 minutes of needless waiting a radiology technician confirmed that Teniscia still had a heartbeat.
Even though the obstetrician attempted an emergency cesarean section delivery at that point, the obstetrician's incorrect assumption that Teniscia was dead resulted in Teniscia being unnecessarily starved of oxygen for so long that she had experienced severe brain damage. Teniscia was soon diagnosed after her delivery with seizures, hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy and cerebral palsy.
Seeking answers as to how this could happen to her baby, Veniscia sought help from Chris Hurley and Mark McKenna of HM&M. They immediately filed suit against the United States of America, the obstetrician's employer, and pursued a Federal Tort Claims Act medical malpractice case on behalf of Veniscia and Teniscia. The evidence of Chris and Mark gathered during the case proved that earlier action by the obstetrician would have led to a better outcome for Teniscia. Ultimately, HM&M was able to obtain a $13,000,000 settlement for Teniscia.
The settlement HM&M obtained for Teniscia guarantees that she will have accessible housing, transportation, health care, and trained medical supervision for the rest of her life.