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Jury sides with defense in malpractice case

A Jackson County jury sided with two physicians in a medical negligence case where a mother said her child’s injuries stemmed from the child’s birth.

Ranisha Parker filed the suit on behalf of her daughter, Antenia Dinkins, in 2013 against Truman Medical Center, University Physician Associates and Dr. Roger P. Smith. In a later amended petition, Dr. Sara E. Wood and Dr. Mary Thaxton were added as defendants in the case.

Smith and Wood were the only two defendants to proceed to the trial. The jury returned the verdict Dec. 9, following an eight-day trial.

Parker claimed the defendants were medically negligent during the 2008 birth of her daughter, which resulted in her child’s brain injury and cerebral palsy.

According to a release, Parker alleged that her pregnancy was at high risk for placental problems late in labor because of a chronic enzymatic disorder.

Parker was admitted to triage after a failed non-stress test earlier on the date of Dinkins’ birth. Smith was attending physician for the labor and delivery unit and Wood acted as chief resident for triage.

Parker alleged that Wood misread a follow-up non-stress test using a fetal heart monitor at triage, which defendants denied.

Parker and her baby were taken off the fetal heart monitor but kept in triage for blood pressure monitoring. Fetal distress was detected later that day when Parker was placed back on the fetal heart monitor, prompting an emergency C-section, the release said.

Parker suffered “a large placental abruption” that resulted in hypoxia and cerebral palsy. She claimed that the fetal heart monitor was removed too early and could have led to earlier detection of fetal distress, points the defense denied.

According to a release, the defense argued there were no signs of fetal distress when Wood ordered the removal of the fetal heart monitor. The defense also claimed that the placental abruption occurred because of an acute event occurring before delivery.

The plaintiffs were represented by Samuel Cullan of Cullan & Cullan in Kansas City. He did not return calls seeking comment.

Jacqueline A. Cook, of Franke Schultz & Mullen in Kansas City, was the lead defense attorney, along with Christopher A. Brackman, from the same firm. Cook said Cullan sought $20.3 million in damages from the jury at trial.

She declined to comment on pre-trial negotiations or the last pre-trial offer, noting the matter was confidential.

“We are appreciative of the jury’s careful consideration of the evidence in this difficult case and the verdict reached,” she said. MO

$20.3 million defense verdict

Medical negligence

Venue: Jackson County Circuit Court

Case Number/Date: 1316-CV25744/Dec. 9, 2015

Judge: Joel Fahnestock

Plaintiff’s Experts: Dr. Michael Benson, Deerfield, Illinois (obstetrics and gynecology); Dr. Thomas Naidich, New York, New York (neuro-radiologist); Dr. Donald Nelms, Fort Worth, Texas (neonatal-perinatal medicine); Dr. Joe Gonzalez, San Antonio, Texas (physical medicine and rehabilitation/life care planner); Kurt Krueger, Prairie Village, Kansas (economist).

Defendant’s Experts: Dr. Carl Weiner, Kansas City, Kansas (maternal-fetal medicine); Dr. Gordon Sze, Hartford, Connecticut (neuro-radiologist); Dr. Rebecca McAlister, St. Louis (obstetrics and gynecology); and Dr. Carolyn Salafia, Larchmont, New York (placental pathologist).

Caption: Antenia Dinkins and Ranisha Parker v. Roger P. Smith and Sara E. Wood.

Plaintiff’s Attorneys: Samuel Cullan, Cullan & Cullan, Kansas City

Defendant’s Attorneys: Jacqueline A. Cook and Christopher A. Brackman, Franke Schultz & Mullen, Kansas City.

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