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Hospital Settles Suit Arising From Delay In Admitting Mother Who Was In Labor


Malin v. the United States of America, (D. Hawaii 1989).

A mother who had an uncomplicated pregnancy arrived at a hospital in labor early in the morning. The reception room was crowded with other expectant mothers. The mothers were being examined on a first-come-first-served basis with no attempt to base the order of admission on the stage of the mother’s labor. For approximately two and one-half hours, plaintiff waited in the reception room, doubled over in pain without being examined by a nurse or physician. The husband’s aggressive complaints were ignored.
By the time the plaintiff was examined, she was in the second stage of labor with decelerated heartbeats and meconium staining. The baby was born without seizures or serious neurological sequelae, but mild left-sided hemiplegia was later identified.

A federal tort claims action was brought against the army hospital. Plaintiff argued that the baby incurred cerebral palsy as a result of perinatal asphyxia. Defendant argued that the delay in examining the mother was not the proximate cause of the baby’s problems, as the defendant contended that the baby had a stroke in utero.

Injury: Mild left-sided hemiplegia with cortical dysfunction and a left-sided limp that inhibits motor development.

Result: $600,000 structured settlement.

Plaintiff’s Expert Witnesses:

Ronald Gabriel, M.D., pediatric neurologist, Los Angeles, Cal.; Albert Fitzpatrick, economist, Carmel, Cal.; Lucian Trigiano, M.D., rehabilitation expert, San Francisco, Cal.; Charles Golden, M.D., neuropsychologist, Univ. of Nebraska; Robert Marvit, M.D., psychiatrist, Honolulu, Hawaii; Robin Wilcourt, perinatologist, Kapiolani Hospital, Honolulu, Hawaii; Barbara Golden, M.D., pediatric neurologist, Baton Rouge, La.; Ralph Hale, M.D., obstetrician, Univ. of Hawaii, Dept. of Obstetrics, Hawaii; Thomas Laudat, economist, Univ. of Hawaii.

Plaintiff’s Attorney: Mark S. Davis of Davis Levin Livingston, Honolulu, Hawaii.