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Defense Verdict: In Unavoidable Extreme Prematurity Case

November 21, 2014

Senior Partner Bruce G. Habian obtained a defense verdict in Supreme Court, Queens County in a case involving a patient with 22 3/7 gestation pregnancy who presented with contraction activity, and severe dilated membranes; with an appreciation of the non-viable status of the fetus, the mother was counseled for potential termination and refused. Careful observation was undertaken, after amniocentesis failed to identify an offending organism. Plaintiff argued for antibiotics, consideration for cerclage, and tocolytics, so as to extend the labor.


These modalities were not indicated in consideration of the lack of identification of infection, and the progressive membrane status. The mother delivered a viable infant at 23 weeks; extensive cerebral palsy ensued. A defense verdict was obtained in this complicated obstetrical case. Any meaningful extension of the gestational age was not accepted by the jury. The dangers of maintaining the pregnancy - given the infectious trigger of the contractions - were most apparent. In this clinical setting, the mother’s health concerning systemic infection was the focus of the defense.

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