An experienced obstetrical malpractice lawyer can understand the pain and suffering caused by a catastrophic birthing injury, but for most of the population these challenges are unimaginable. A recent birthing injury settlement in Nova Scotia may help shed light on the harms and costs associated with serious obstetrical errors.

Cullan Chisholm was born on July 31, 2010, at St. Martha’s Regional Hospital in Antigonish. His mother, Monique Chisholm, had been in labour since the day before while being administered oxytocin to intensify contractions.

Chisholm’s statement of claim indicates that Dr. Allison Ball, a fifth-year obstetrical resident, and two other attending nurses failed to notice that the baby wasn’t receiving enough oxygen. Cullan was born ‘grey and lifeless, with the umbilical cord looped around his neck,’ CBC News Nova Scotia reported. The child was rushed by helicopter to IWK Health Centre in Halifax, where he spent three days in an incubator in hopes of limiting his injuries.

Cullan survived, but suffered brain damage in two stages: once during labour, and once during delivery. Medical experts testified that delivery by caesarian section could have prevented the injuries.

Today, Cullan suffers from severe cerebral palsy and cognitive impairment. He is unable to speak or control his body and requires assistance from an adult to move or use the bathroom. He will need constant, round-the-clock care for the rest of his life.

After a seven-year legal battle, Dr. Ball and the former Guysborough Antigonish Strait Health Authority agreed to settle without admitting fault. With the help of an obstetrical malpractice lawyer, Cullan’s family was able to secure $6-million in compensation, the largest personal injury settlement in Nova Scotia’s history.

Although similar cases often attract larger settlements in Ontario, according to the CBC, the publicity surrounding this case highlights the massive expense of caring for a catastrophically injured child. Today, Cullan’s care costs about $70,000 per year. By the time he’s 21, it will cost $130,000.

The settlement allowed Monique and her husband, Wade, to purchase a $3-million annuity to cover future care costs. A further $2-million will cover legal fees incurred during the seven-year legal struggle. The remainder will go towards building a wheelchair-accessible home.

“This settlement allows us to give Cullan the best quality of life as possible,” Monique told the CBC. “I guess with this settlement now we can live like – and I’m going to use quotes – like a ‘normal’ family.”

If you or a loved one have experienced an injury as a result of an obstetrical error, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced obstetrical malpractice lawyer.

Greg Neinstein

Greg Neinstein, B.A. LLB., is the Managing Partner at Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers LLP. His practice focuses on serious injury and complex insurance claims, including motor vehicle accidents, slip and fall injuries, long-term disability claims and insurance claims. Greg has extensive mediation and trial experience and has a reputation among his colleagues as a skillful negotiator.
Greg Neinstein