Two Obstetricians Successfully Defended in a Maternal Death Case

Andrew Garson continued his string of courtroom achievements with a unanimous defense verdict on June 22, 2023, successfully defending two obstetricians and a local hospital center in a maternal death case.

The patient had undergone a cesarean section due to labor difficulties. She died later that day, due to a cardiopulmonary arrest caused by a blood clot which developed in her legs, then traveled to her heart and lungs, leading to her death. The patient’s attorney contended that defendants had failed to properly evaluate and recognize she was at “extremely high risk’ for fatal clotting. Counsel maintained she was in extremely poor health due to morbid obesity, nutritional deficiencies, suspected cardiovascular problems, as well as the increased risk of clotting due to pregnancy, hormonal changes, and related conditions. Additionally, it was argued that the admission evaluation for clotting problems in pregnant patients was improperly performed, and that defendants violated the hospital’s protocol in this assessment. Plaintiffs’ highly credentialed obstetrician expert testified that the simple measure of prescribing a safe, effective blood thinner medication would have prevented this disastrous outcome. Instead, the patient experienced considerable suffering, comparing her collapse and death to slowly drowning at the bottom of a swimming pool. During the closing argument, counsel asked the jurors to return a minimum of 12 million dollars for the patient’s daughter in a wrongful death claim, and at least 2 million dollars for the patient’s pain and suffering as she recognized her death was imminent.

On behalf of defendants, Mr. Garson emphasized the careful assessments and monitoring of the patient during her 48-hour admission, as documented in the hospital chart. He argued that the applicable standards of care permitted either administration of Heparin, or ambulation with pneumatic compression stockings during delivery, as proper. The defendants had to make a judgment call as to which measure to use, balancing risks of bleeding due to an epidural spinal needle and surgical delivery, with the benefits of medication which can reduce the likelihood of clotting. The credibility of plaintiff’s obstetrical expert was also aggressively challenged, with the jurors commenting afterwards that they felt the witness was arrogant, condescending, and did not testify accurately. The defendants supported their position with the testimony of experienced experts in obstetrics as well as hematology. After several weeks of testimony, it was the jurors’ determination that the defendants used acceptable judgment according to the Court’s charge, despite what they recognized as a very emotional situation at issue.

This was Mr. Garson’s 9th jury verdict in a medical malpractice case since Covid restrictions were lifted.