On April 23, 2023, the United States District Court in the Southern District of New York granted the government's motion for summary judgment in a medical malpractice case brought by a mother and her child against the United States under the Federal Tort Claims Act. The case involved a permanent brachial plexus injury that the child sustained during birth, allegedly caused by an obstetrician's excessive force on the child's head and shoulders during delivery.
A brachial plexus injury (a/k/a “Erb's palsy”) is a disorder in which a group of nerves near the shoulder that connects the spine to the arm and hand, is stretched or torn. Plaintiffs alleged that the federal-employee obstetrician, Dr. Sandy Bui committed malpractice because she used excessive force on the baby's head and shoulders during delivery, injuring his brachial plexus.
The court previously granted the government's motion to preclude the plaintiffs' experts from testifying that the child's injury could not have occurred without the obstetrician's movement of the head during delivery. The court concluded that the premise for plaintiff's expert opinions: “absent certain pre-existing conditions that can exaggerate a baby's risk of nerve stretch during delivery, the sole possible cause of permanent brachial plexus injury is the use of excessive traction by the person delivering the baby.” Such a premise was held speculative and did not satisfy the substantial factor test on causation.The government then moved for summary judgment, which the court granted, citing undisputed facts and evidence that did not support the plaintiffs' claims. Nanema v United States of America, 21- CV - 2615