For most parents, the birth of a new child is a joyous event, one full of promise and a long and happy future. Sadly, there are far too many other parents that go through a very different sort of experience. They are thrust into tragedy, or onto a path that they could never have anticipated or planned for. Sometimes, these experiences are the result of an unpreventable tragedy; other times, they are the result of a birth injury caused by a negligent healthcare provider. In both instances, the future can become one that appears bleak, blurry, or even frightening.
For Ted and Jennifer Hill, the future became a place of uncertainty after the delivery of their son, Ryan. Born with permanent brain damage, Ryan would need lifelong care. His parents faced concerns over how his needs would be met after they were no longer living. But even more concerning was the feeling that Ryan’s injuries could have somehow been prevented. In 2006, they pursued this possibility by filing a lawsuit on behalf of Ryan against the hospital. In late 2008, they were referred by another attorney to Hurley, McKenna & Mertz, P.C.
Mistakes Made, Despite Ample Warning
During her forty-second week of pregnancy, Jennifer received testing from her obstetrician that indicated the possibility of risk to Ryan if he was not delivered soon. Instead of informing Ted and Jennifer of the potential complications ahead and offering them the option to deliver via Cesarean section, the obstetrician told them to go home and then return the next day for an induction of labor.
When Jennifer and Ted arrived at the hospital the next day, the doctor ignored all warning signs from previous tests, choosing instead to order that Jennifer be placed on the contraction-inducing drug, Pitocin. Over the next 19 hours of labor, Jennifer began experiencing excessively frequent contractions from the drug. Rather than follow hospital policy that recommended they discontinue use, the nurses continued to administer Pitocin over the next five hours.
Even when Ryan’s fetal heart rate became abnormal, indicating fetal distress and a lack of oxygen, Jennifer’s doctor delayed delivery by Cesarean. Instead, the physician made several unsuccessful attempts at delivering by forceps and a vacuum extractor. More than an hour would pass before Ryan was finally delivered by Cesarean; by that time, he had already suffered permanent and irreversible brain injury due to the prolonged lack of oxygen.
Failure to Disclose Injury and its Repercussions
Despite having caused an injury to Ryan, the hospital remained silent on the outcome. As a result, Ted and Jennifer had no knowledge of their son’s brain damage, or how it linked back to the decisions made by the nurses and doctors made during Ryan’s delivery. But, over time, Ryan’s condition made itself known. He began to suffer from seizures, which are still present in his life today.
The Journey for Justice
No one ever offered to compensate the Hill family for the injuries that Ryan sustained, not even as the severity of those injuries—along with the implications of what they would mean for Ryan in the future—continued to mount. Ryan has cognitive deficits that affect his speech and decision-making abilities. He attends Special Education classes in school and requires special care in his daily life to ensure his safety and well-being.
After meeting with Jennifer, Ted, and Ryan in 2006, Chris Hurley and Mark McKenna agreed to help the family take their case to trial. Over the course of several years, they investigated the details of Ryan’s birth. Ultimately, they were able to connect his injuries to the negligent healthcare workers through expert witnesses, a review of the evidence, and in-depth medical and legal research.
In September 2012, a jury returned a verdict on behalf of Ryan. His family received a damages award to compensate for Ryan’s past and future medical expenses and lost wages, as well as his past and future pain, suffering, and loss of a normal life. While this will never make up for the injuries inflicted upon Ryan, Ted and Jennifer can now move forward with life knowing that Ryan will always receive the medical and emotional care he needs.
Aggressive, Competent, Compassionate Representation
Cases like Ryan’s require more than just an understanding of the law; their sensitive nature and the long-term implications of a win or loss require competent, aggressive, and compassionate representation. Because in matters such as a birth injury, the future is the only thing that can be changed. And it should be changed when a healthcare provider’s actions or inactions have altered the very life a child will lead.
We can assist you in your pursuit of compensation and a better future. Much as we dedicated our resources, time, and attention to the Hill family, we will thoroughly investigate your situation to build the best possible case. Our Chicago birth injury attorneys will also ensure that the rights and best interest of your family are heard and protected throughout the entire process. Get started today by scheduling a free initial consultation. Call 312-553-4900 today.