Attorneys are often asked about their successes and it’s an important question to ask. Most attorneys in this field will volunteer their successes to you, you won’t have to ask, they’ll have them plastered all over their websites, they will push them to you in pamphlets that they give you when you meet with them, they’ll drop them in conversations. It’s an important question to ask and candidly, this firm has had more success in representing families with children with cerebral palsy than any firm in this state.
I’ve been asked to talk about our most recent verdict and the most recent success that we had on behalf of a family. That family is the family of Kaylie Watson. It’s Melissa Watson and her daughter Kailey. Kailey was injured during labor and delivery by the doctor, the midwife and the labor and delivery team at Gwinnett Hospital. Kailey, during labor and delivery, was in distress and the fetal heart monitor strip that was attached to mom’s belly indicated that when mom was having contractions over an extended period of time, that Kailey in mom’s womb wasn’t responding well and it was as plain as day on the fetal heart monitor strip that the best place for that baby was out of mom’s belly, not inside it.
Frankly we could chart, and we presented this to the jury when we ultimately tried the case, an extended period of time over hours when Kailey was essentially gasping for air, just like a swimmer who’s swimming in the ocean and keeps getting hit by waves in the face. That swimmer will be hit by a wave, lose some oxygen, recover and continue swimming until the waves become too much for them. That’s much like what happens to a baby during delivery. All babies suffer. Squeezing of the placenta and the umbilical cord and loss of oxygen when mom has contractions and when mom’s pushing, makes it worse.
You can track on a fetal heart monitor strip, you can see the peak of mom’s contractions or more of a plateau as mom is pushing and you can watch the baby’s heart rate drop and then recover. What happens is, is that sometimes baby’s aren’t recovering well. The environment of mom’s belly at that point becomes hostile and just like that swimmer who gets hit by wave after wave after wave after wave and can’t recover, a baby getting hit by contraction after contraction after contraction and unable to recover will start to decline. You can track this in a fetal heart monitor strip and we and our experts tracked this in Kailey’s fetal heart monitor strip.
Now I can’t tell you why the nurse midwife and the labor and delivery team didn’t respond to these warning signs throughout Kailey’s delivery. Usually it’s just because the doctors and the nursing staff are so used to birth deliveries going smoothly that they tend to tune out. It’s hard to imagine. You would think in an operating room or in a delivery room, that you would expect everyone to be on high alert, but the truth is that the way God made us, deliveries are almost always successful. Babies are born in difficult environments all over the planet, often without a doctor anywhere near by and that’s the way we’re built.
It’s for that process to work with very little intervention the vast majority of the time. But it’s times like Kailey’s, where there are problems going on and the baby is not reacting well, that the labor and delivery team has to be alert and on top of it. I guess much like a passenger plane pilot, although it’s probably routine for them with all of the control and all the safeguards to just direct that plane from New York to Los Angeles and they can probably do it in their sleep, when they’ve got the lives of people on that plane in their hands, we don’t want them to be asleep.
We don’t want them to tune out. We don’t want them to be making small talk rather than paying close attention to the entire course of what’s going on with this baby. I think that’s what happened. That’s what usually happens. That’s what be believe happens. It’s not that they’re bad people. It’s that they are asleep on the job and they’re asleep on a job that is too important for anyone to sleep on. Now the defense representing Gwinnett Hospital and doctors and nurses and labor and delivery team and nurse midwife didn’t think much about our case.
They believed that that hospital was so popular, I think, and that people on a jury would have such warm feelings about doctors and nurses who deliver babies that we couldn’t possibly be successful and so they offered essentially nothing. Maybe a few hundred thousand dollars. Well, that’s not how it worked out for them. A jury in Gwinnett County returned the largest verdict ever in a case like this and their jury verdict included 13.9 million dollars and change for Kailey. With that verdict, Kailey Watson will be taken care of with the highest possible medical care for the rest of her life until her dying day. Although her needs are extraordinary, she will get the finest care that money can buy, which is what any parent hopes for.