Botched birth results in federal lawsuit

MARTINSBURG – A Berkeley Springs woman has filed a federal suit on behalf of herself and her son against City Hospital and the United States, claiming her son was born with birth defects after doctors failed to deliver him in time.

Shannon Gregg went to the City Hospital Obstetrics Department on Nov. 13, 2000, where she gave birth to her son, Michael Gilley, the following day, according to a complaint filed Sept. 22 in U.S. District Court.

After Gregg entered the hospital, Lori Goforth, a midwife, administered a 25 microgram dose of Cytotec to induce labor on Nov. 13 at 9:50 a.m., the suit states.

Gregg already had undergone a cesarean section on Sept. 10, 1999, and claims she was not notified of the risks of a vaginal birth with Gilley.

Gregg claims that once she was given the dose, Gilley's heart rate dropped to 90 beats per minute at 10:47 a.m. and continued to stay that way until at least 5:15 p.m.

Throughout the same time, Gregg was experiencing cramps in her lower abdomen, according to the complaint.

Gilley's heart rate was continually below the normal 130-range before Goforth applied a spiral electrode at 12:08 a.m. Nov. 14 and found a moderate amount of bloody fluid, according to the complaint.

Dr. H. Alexander Wanger was notified of Gregg's condition at about 12:10 a.m. and came into the delivery room to perform a cesarean section, which he began at about 12:30, the suit states.

"Upon entering the abdomen, it was observed that the uterus had ruptured and the infant and placenta were in the peritoneal cavity," the suit states.

Gregg claims that when Gilley was delivered "he was floppy, had no respiratory activity, and no response to stimuli," according to the complaint.

He was taken to the nursery and placed on a ventilator where he had multiple myoclonic episodes as well as tonic-clonic episodes, the suit states.

Gregg claims Gilley now suffers from brain damage, developmental delay and reflux.

Goforth, Wanger, the United States and City Hospital were negligent because they failed to properly monitor and treat Gregg's labor, failed to advise Gregg of the risks to her baby if vaginal delivery was attempted, failed to use the proper medication and delayed responding to Gregg's need for a cesarean section, according to the complaint.

In addition, both City Hospital and the United States government had a duty to provide competent and quality medical care and treatment and to continually survey the professional performance of its staff members, the suit states.

Wanger and Goforth are employees of the United States, according to the complaint.

Gregg is seeking unspecified economic and non-economic damages, pre-judgment interest, costs and attorney fees.

Barry J. Nace of Paulson & Nace in Washington, D.C., and D. Michael Burke of Burke, Schultz, Harman & Jenkinson in Martinsburg will be representing Gregg.

U.S. District Court case number: 3:08 CV144

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