Mother Loses Birth Injury Malpractice Case




Mother Loses Birth Injury Malpractice Case

A Texas Woman has lost in her long battle to recover damages from the two Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center doctors responsible for the delivery of her brain-damaged child.  A jury of twelve in the 170th State District Court in Texas found Dr. Gene Murff, an obstetrician, and Dr. Darrell Wheeler, a neonatologist, not guilty of providing negligent care for Wanda Pass and her now eleven-year-old daughter Leslie Pass. 

Leslie suffered oxygen depletion and other fetal trauma at birth, which resulted in cerebral palsy, moderate to severe mental retardation, and frequent seizures that she suffers from still today. 

The plaintiff, Wanda Pass claimed that Dr. Murff waited too long in her labor to reduce the labor-inducing drug and require a Caesarean section for the baby who was suffering from a decreasing oxygen supply.  Had the doctor acted promptly and with sound judgment, according to the plaintiff, the baby would not have suffered from the brain injuries responsible for her suffering today.

Attorneys representing the defendants however, refuted the comments with certainty.  “If Dr. Murff had done what the plaintiff’s experts had said, because of the mother’s low blood pressure, it could have been really bad for the mom and baby,” stated Murff’s attorney Jim Ewbank.  “Instead, he did the smart thing, which was wait for the blood pressure to come up and the baby was born.”

Ewbank also told the jury that Dr. Murff had delivered over 8,000 babies in his 37-year practice, with only one negative outcome.

An attorney representing Dr. Wheeler added that there was substantial evidence the baby had already suffered a harmful amount of oxygen depletion even prior to the mother’s arrival at the hospital for delivery. 

Because of the mother’s admittance that she smoked throughout the pregnancy, the jury was unable to determine whether brain damage occurred during the pregnancy or delivery. 

The jury concluded that it was not the doctors, but Hillcrest Hospital nurses that were negligent in their care of Pass and her baby.  The nurses failed to notify the doctors in a timely manner when the patient and baby were in distress, which may have caused Leslie’s brain injuries. 

“Everyone on the jury, of course, was very sympathetic where this child is concerned.  But we felt that if there was blame to be placed in this situation that it lied more with the nurses at Hillcrest during the procedure and it did not involve the two doctors in this case,” commented jury member Scott Williams. 

While hospital representatives were not present at the trial, they did reach a confidential settlement with the Kay family 2 ½ weeks prior to the trial.  Attorney Roy Barrett, representing Hillcrest in the case, underlined that the settlement that was reached was fair to both parties and was by no means an admittance of negligence on the part of the hospital. 

The plaintiff initially sought $4.2 million in damages for medical expenses, lost wages, and other compensation for pain and suffering. 

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