AZ Jury Hears Opening Statements In Childbirth Brain Injury Trial

Posted by David Siegel on Oct 26, 2023 9:47:33 AM

AZ plaintiff openings

CVN screenshot of plaintiff attorney Brian Snyder delivering his opening statement

Phoenix, AZ - An Arizona state court jury heard opening statements Tuesday in a medical malpractice lawsuit accusing hospital staff of causing a baby’s severe brain injury due to oxygen deprivation during delivery.

Banner Health faces accusations that nurses and residents at Banner-University Medical Center Phoenix repeatedly administered a medication that can make the effects of lack of oxygen worse in supposed violation of hospital policy, however the defense maintains the plaintiff’s health issues after birth are the result of neurological issues unrelated to delivery.

The full trial, which includes attorney Gary Dordick as part of the team representing plaintiff Krystle Griepentrog and her nine-year-old son Greyson, is being webcast and recorded gavel-to-gavel by Courtroom View Network.

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During his opening statement on behalf of the plaintiffs, attorney Brian Snyder of Snyder & Wenner described to jurors how Krystle went to the hospital for a slightly overdue delivery on May 31, 2014 after largely uneventful pregnancy.

Snyder explained that as the delivery process dragged on Greyson’s fetal heart monitor began to indicate he was in distress, so staff began administering Pitocin, a synthetic form of a hormone called Oxytocin used to strengthen contractions of the uterus.

However Snyder argued the hospital’s guidelines for administering the drug prohibit using it if the baby isn’t getting enough oxygen, since the extended contractions can further deplete the baby’s oxygen reserves.

Despite this, Snyder accused Banner staff of continuing to administer Pitocin “over and over.” Finally after 16 hours of labor, Greyson was born in a condition Snyder described as blue and “nearly lifeless” and was rushed to a cooling unit used to revive infants born with hypoxic brain injuries.

Snyder didn’t ask for a specific amount of damages in his opening, but he said the prolonged lack of oxygen to Greyson’s brain resulted in injuries that will require a lifetime of care. He told jurors he would seek a “significant but fair sum of money.”

In her opening statement on behalf of Banner, Margaret Dean of Campbell Yost Clare & Norell sharply disagreed with Snyder’s version of events, particularly the allegation that Greyson was in distress immediately upon birth.

“The records aren’t consistent with that,” Dean said, describing how Greyson allegedly stretched his arms and legs and that his eventual distress surprised doctors and nurses, since it supposedly wasn’t indicated by the fetal monitors.

Dean repeatedly stressed that Snyder was under the supervision of an experienced attending physician throughout the labor and delivery process, and she presented a markedly different description of Greyson’s fetal monitoring during delivery, telling jurors Banner would present expert testimony that the decision to administer Pitocin met the standard of care given the circumstances.

AZ defense

CVN screenshot of defense attorney Margaret Dean delivering her opening statement

Dean suggested to jurors that Greyson’s ongoing health issues are the result of a neurological or genetic disorder, and she noted the pediatric neurologist who examined him shortly after birth did not find signs of a hypoxic brain injury.

She countered Snyder’s argument that cooling treatment is the telltale course of action for babies with hypoxic brain injuries by explaining that cooling treatment has to begin immediately to be effective, and that hospital staff didn’t have time to wait for further test results before starting it.

The full trial before Judge John Blanchard is expected to take three to four weeks to complete, and CVN’s coverage will continue for the duration of the proceedings.

The case is captioned Griepentrog v. Banner Health, case number CV2020-052367 in Maricopa County Superior Court.

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Topics: Medical Malpractice