Botched Delivery Results in Largest-Ever Blair County Verdict

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Mayhue v. Pazmino
$4 Million Verdict
Pennsylvania Law Weekly
Verdicts : Settlements
April 3, 2006

Date of Verdict: February 15, 2006
Court and Case No.: C.P.Blair, No. 2002-GN-5207
Judge: Hiram A. Carpenter, III
Type of Action: Medical malpractice.
Injuries: Brain damage.

Plaintiff’s Attorneys: Jerry I. Meyers and Paul J. Giuffre of Meyers Kenrick Giuffre & Evans, now Lupetin & Unatin, Pittsburgh.

Defense Attorneys: Christopher C. Rulis of O’Brien, Rulis Bochicchio & Sosso, Bridgeville, Pa.; Giles J. Gaca of Gaca Matis Baum & Rizza, Pittsburgh; Daniel P. Carroll of Davies, McFarland & Carroll of Davies, McFarland & Carroll, Pittsburgh.

Plaintiff’s Experts:
Mark Alan Epstein, M.D., Coral Springs, Fla.; Raymond R. Schultetus, M.D., Gainesville, Fla.; Daniel Landers, M.D., Minneapolis, Minn.; Mona Yudkoff, R.N., Bala Cynwyd, Pa.; Richard Paul Bonfiglio, M.D., Murrysville, Pa.; Donal F. Kirwan SPHR, Pittsburgh.

Defense Experts:
Harlan R. Giles, M.D., Ronald Thomas, M.D.; Lynn A. Hill, M.S.N.; Jeffrey A. Grass, M.D.; Jonathan Waters, M.D.

On Dec. 15, 1995, plaintiff Trudy Mayhue was admitted to Tyrone Hospital 41 weeks into her pregnancy. According to a fax from plaintiff attorney, Jerry I. Meyers, after 4 hours in the second stage of labor, forceps, a medical tool designed to cradle the baby’s head and assist in the birth, were twiced applied by the obstetrician. Both attempts proved unsuccessful.

After the second removal of the forceps, the fetal heart tracing was lost on the external fetal monitoring. According to the records, thirteen minutes later a crash induction was performed and Trudy Mayhue’s baby, Jacob, was delivered two minutes later by Cesarean section. At the time of birth, Jacob Mayhue had an Apgars score of 0. The Apgar test is performed after birth to determine the physical condition of the newborn. The scoring is based on a scale of 0 to 10, with 10 being the healthiest infant.

After Jacob Mayhue was successfully resuscitated, he was transferred to a tertiary care treatment center. Today, at 10 years of age, Jacob Mayhue suffers diffuse brain injury resulting in motor weakness, poor coordination and severe cognitive deficit. Meyers said in a telephone conversation that Jacob Mayhue’s last measured IQ was 75. “He is able to walk but his gait is affected,” and he is able to talk, but his speech is “immature,” said Meyers.

According to Meyers, during the trial the plaintiff contended that the forceps were applied prior to the adequate descent of the infant. Allegedly, the improper forceps application led to cord prolapse, a condition that can cause the infant’s blood and oxygen supply to be cut off during birth. The plaintiff further claimed that the cord prolapse resulted in a loss of fetal tracing with delayed recognition and treatment such that the infant was delivered 17 minutes after the loss of tracing. The plaintiff claimed that all hands were present for the performance of an emergency C-section and the actual delivery of the child only required two minutes.

The defendants contended that the forceps were in fact properly applied said Meyers. They contended that the fetal heart tracing was lost after the second unsuccessful application of the forceps but that the delivery had occurred promptly. The defendants contended that the apparent discrepancy between the time of loss of fetal heart tones and delivery was the result of the labor nurse basing her recordings on the fetal monitoring device, while others based their time reports on other, un-synchronized clocks.

The plaintiff’s physical medicine specialist, life care planner and neurologist all concluded that Jacob Mayhue’s brain damage limited his ability to perform activities of daily living. Additionally, they agreed that in the future he was at a substantial risk of requiring supervision for the remainder of his life.

The life care plan introduced on behalf of the minor was a range of about $2,793,160 to $4,622,419.

The trial lasted eight days. After seven hours of deliberations the jury, by a 10-2 vote, found Roy Pazmino, Peter Matgouranis and Tyrone Hospital negligent, Meyers said.

On Feb. 15, the jury announced an award of $4.002 million ($2.75 million for future medical expenses, $600,000 for wages lost over lifetime, $200,000 each for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of lives and embarrassment and humiliation and $52,000 for disfigurement).

“The judge told us that it was the largest verdict in the history of Blair County,” Meyers said.

Post-trial motions have been filed by the defendants said Meyers; defense attorneys Christopher C. Rulis and Giles J. Gaca did not return phone calls requesting comment.

*Jerry Meyers retired from the firm in 2021.

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