$30M Verdict Hits GA Hospital & Doctor in Birth-Injury, Med Mal Trial

Posted by Arlin Crisco on Jul 25, 2022 5:32:01 PM


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Update: This article has been updated to include attorneys' post-verdict comments. 

Lawrenceville, GA— Jurors Friday handed down a $30 million verdict against a Georgia hospital and an obstetrician for the profound birth-related injuries a mother and her child suffered. Threat v. Gamble-Webb, et al., 19-C-00101-S1. 

The award includes $29 million to January Threat for the catastrophic brain damage she suffered during her October 2017 birth and $1 million for injuries that forced her mother, Eulanda Katriece Threat, to undergo an emergency hysterectomy. The Gwinnett County State Court jury apportioned 20% of responsibility to Dr. Kendra Gamble-Webb and 80% to Monroe HMA LLC, for the acts of one of its nurses, Gina Sasso.

The Threats claim Sasso and Gamble-Webb failed to properly monitor and treat birth-related complications that caused January Threat's oxygen deprivation. The birth-related injury has left her unable to speak and in need of a feeding tube to eat, among a host of neurological issues. 

During Thursday’s closings, the Threats' attorney, Mahaffey Pickens Tucker’s Steven Pickens, suggested a $55 million damage award, including $50 million for January Threat. 

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The 9-day trial turned on whether the healthcare professionals properly cared for the mother and child and responded appropriately to a likely amniotic fluid embolism during birth. 

The defense argued that the likely embolism was an unforeseen, catastrophic complication. And they contended nurse Sasso followed proper protocol in monitoring the baby’s heart rate during labor, while Gamble-Webb acted appropriately to an emergency situation in working to save the mother’s life before performing a C-section to deliver the baby. 

During Thursday’s closings, Hall Booth Smith’s John Hall walked jurors through the timeline of the labor and birth. He argued expert testimony supported Sasso’s monitoring and reporting of the child’s vital signs as well as Gamble-Webb’s decisions in stabilizing the mother before performing the C-section. 

“All of those actions met the standard of care,” Hall said. “And because of those actions, Ms. Threat is alive and her child is alive.”

But Pickens argued evidence established that untreated tachysystole, or contractions that were coming too quickly, contributed to the embolism. And he added that error was compounded by the failure to ensure January Threat’s vitals were properly monitored when her heart rate was dropping, and an 11-minute delay in performing a C-section after Eulanda Threat collapsed. 

“They caused it,” Pickens said. “They were complacent. And they didn’t catch it.”

After the verdict, Pickens told CVN in an email that he believed jurors relied on the overall picture of the evidence in reaching their verdict. "This baby girl’s heart rate went completely unmonitored for 24 minutes and then an additional 13 minutes where no one knew with certainty what her heart rate was," Pickens said.  "Not knowing her heart rate for 37 minutes in the face of multiple danger signs proved to not be defensible." 

In an email after the verdict, Hall told CVN “We are disappointed with the jury verdict in the matter. We believe, as did the defense experts, that the providers provided excellent care and this injury was the result of an amniotic fluid embolism, which is rare, unpredictable, and carries with it significant mortality and morbidity.”

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Topics: Medical Malpractice, Georgia, Threat v. Gamble-Webb, et al.