Defense Verdict in New York County

On May 1, 2013, HPM&B obtained a defense verdict in New York County Supreme Court on behalf of a major metropolitan hospital.  It was claimed that the infant-plaintiff developed meconium aspiration syndrome and later asthma because the hospital’s neonatology team did not properly manage his resuscitation at birth.  The infant-plaintiff was born covered in meconium, with compromised tone and depressed respirations.  The plaintiffs argued that the neonatology staff should have intubated and suctioned meconium from the newborn’s trachea before providing positive pressure ventilation.  To support this contention, the plaintiffs relied on an algorithm from a neonatal resuscitation training book which indicates that all non-vigorous infants born in the presence of meconium should be intubated and suctioned shortly after birth.  It was alleged that meconium was forced into the infant’s lungs when the neonatology team performed positive pressure ventilation.  The contention was that this caused meconium aspiration syndrome which later resulted in permanent asthma that has significantly impacted the child’s life.

The defense argued that the neonatology team used good clinical judgment in deciding to forgo intubation and tracheal suctioning during the resuscitation.  The infant had a good heart rate and intubation ran the risk of compromising this sole positive vital sign.  Furthermore, the infant’s condition improved immediately after the positive pressure ventilation so his Apgar scores were normal.  Records of subsequent care indicate that the infant-plaintiff’s asthma has improved.  His treating pulmonologist testified that the meconium aspiration syndrome could not be causally linked to asthma with any certainty.  He also pointed out that the infant’s asthma has been improving and that he fits that category of children who will outgrow the condition.

Robert B. Gibson and Laura A. Del Vecchio represented the hospital at trial.