A negligence suit against a Memorial Health System doctor recently brought about a major verdict in what is considered a relatively challenging venue for plaintiff-side med mal cases.

On June 23, a Colorado Springs family was awarded $4 million in damages resulting from a brain injury caused at birth due to the OBGYN’s negligence. David Woodruff, partner of plaintiffs’ firm Denver Trial Lawyers, won the jury verdict on behalf of 11-year-old Alex Rudnicki and his parent. The jury found Dr. Peter Bianco was negligent in using vacuum extraction to deliver Alex, which caused brain hemorrhaging that the plaintiffs claimed left Alex with an intellectual disability. Insurer COPIC provided the defense for the defendant in the case, and codefendant Memorial Health System, which was owned by the City of Colorado Springs at the time of the incident, settled separately prior to trial.

As Alex was 9 years old when the complaint was filed in February 2015, the award amount for the birth injury will grow once interest is accounted for, Woodruff said.

Bianco delivered Alex on Oct. 5, 2005 at Memorial Hospital Central. Hospital staff had administered the drug Pitocin to induce mother Pamela Rudnicki’s labor but after 20 hours, which included and two-and-a-half hours of active labor, the baby wasn’t progressing into the birth canal, according to the complaint. The plaintiffs claimed Bianco should have known that the mother would have been unable to safely deliver Alex due to his large size and her small frame. Bianco decided to use vacuum extraction to deliver the baby, which the plaintiffs said was “contraindicated” by Rudnicki’s situation, and he didn’t offer a C-section as an alternative or explain to her the risks of vacuum extraction. When vacuum suction is properly applied, it is on the flexion point on the baby’s head. This allows the baby to emerge in the smallest diameter possible through the birth canal, Woodruff said.

To read this story and other complete articles featured in the July 17, 2017 print edition of Law Week Colorado, copies are available for purchase online.