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Delayed C-Section Lawsuit Against Scranton Quincy Settled for $19 Million

On January 3rd 2017, Max Mitchell from the Legal Intelligence reported a story originating from Northern Pennsylvania Hospital. The story entailed recently revealed documents which revealed that the hospital paid $19 million in settlement for damages incurred due to a delayed cesarean operation which caused major brain damage to the newborn.

The Vaccaro vs. Scranton Quincy Hospital case approved the settlement, with part of the money being the attorney fees for the firm that represented the plaintiffs. The incident dates back to 2012, where court papers show that Marissa Vaccaro was admitted in the hospital with clear signs of a placental abruption, which is life threatening.

Marissa’s attending obstetrician was Dr. Raymond C DeCesare. His examination showed that to prevent the baby from experiencing a hypoxic brain injury, an emergency C-section was required. However, according to records, a C-section was not administered until 84 minutes after the patient’s admission to the hospital. The delay was caused by an ultrasound that was ordered by Dr. DeCesare, one which was contended as unnecessary by the defendants in court.

The Suit has claims of negligence filed against the DeCesare, with liability claims made against all related entities. There was also a claim for corporate negligence against Moses Taylor in the suit, as well as a negligent infliction of emotional distress claim. As a result of this, the Vaccaro’s baby, Emma Vaccaro, was born hypoxic, suffered brain injury, seizure disorder, renal failure, and visual impairment. Marrissa Vaccaro herself sustained injuries due to internal bleeding and excessive blood loss.

The defendants contended that the treatment was proper and that the ultrasound was important given the condition of the mother. The defendants also contended that there was evidence of brain injury to the fetus at the time Marissa Vaccaro arrived at the delivery room.     

Judge Terrance Nealon had previously ruled on the basis of records related to the litigation history of a doctor’s malpractice and two administrative letters penned by other doctors warning Dr DeCesare to remedy delinquent medical records. The documents were shielded by PRPA as it grants qualified immunity to health care providers. Even so the judge ordered the defendants to show documents, validating that records are important to claims against corporation liability.

The defendants tried everything to keep the amount of the settlement confidential, but judge Nealon refused to seal these records. The defendants argued on this decision, stating that the amount would serve as an example and will impede future malpractice settlements. The records were still not sealed as judge Nealon stated that settlement amounts are always determined by factors specific to each case. Court records show that the case was settled on the second day of the jury selection which began on November 1. This agreement was presented for approval in court on 7th November; the judge gave his go ahead shortly after. Before the end of 2016, the order with the settlement amount was unsealed. The exact amount that was approved as settlement by judge Nealon was $19.3 million.

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