A Passaic County, New Jersey jury found for the plaintiff in a case involving an obstetrician’s failure to diagnose placental abruption (separation of the placenta from the uterus). Sigismondi v. Greene, PAS-L-3055-05 (N.J. Super. Ct. 2007). Plaintiff, a husband whose wife and newborn son died as a result of the doctor’s negligence, argued that the OB (Dr. Jennifer Greene) failed to perform tests to determine the cause of his wife’s abdominal pain complaints. Plaintiff further argued that given his wife’s history of a gallbladder surgery when she was 7 months pregnant, during which surgery her uterus was moved, required the OB to seriously evaluate his wife’s report of pain and pressure in her pelvis, as well as nausea and vomiting, just 3 weeks after surgery. Dr. Greene did order some tests over the phone, but did not order an ultrasound or blood tests.
Plaintiff’s wife died less than 24 hours after being sent home from the hospital after limited tests were run in response to her complaints. Plaintiff’s son was delivered by an emergency caesarian section not long after his mother collapsed from bleeding caused by the separation of the placenta from the uterus wall. Unfortunately, the ruptrue of the placenta caused deprivation of oxygen to the newborn, who suffered from seizures and was significantly brain damaged and survived after birth for a few days only because he was on life support systems. When the life support was removed, Plaintiff’s son died.
Dr. Greene argued that she ordered appropriate testing and that the Plaintiff’s wife had normal findings that suggested it was reasonable to discharge her to home, including stable fetal monitoring results and no evidence that amniotic fluid was leaking or that she was bleeding vaginally. Dr. Greene argued that the placenta had ruptured suddenly just before the Plaintiff’s wife collapsed, but an expert for Plaintiff testified that findings during the caesarian section were more consistent with a tear in the placenta occuring a day before she collapsed.
The jury deliberated only 2 days before awarding $8.8 Million to Plaintiff, including $2 Million for the loss of his wife and $5 Million for the loss of his son.