Lawyers of Distinction member Charles Merkel III, Esq. of Clarksdale, Mississippi and his firm secured a $2.4 million jury award on behalf of a client who sustained multiple injuries during and after the birth of her child. Charles Merkel, Esq. successfully presented her case to a Lowndes County jury, who found in favor of the Firm’s client.
Thankfully, the client’s baby was delivered alive and healthy, but the jury found that Holzhauer’s actions were negligent. They awarded the plaintiff $2,408,311.00 in damages.
Dr. James Holzhauer delivered the client’s child in 2014, at Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle, but during her protracted second stage of labor, the client suffered a uterine rupture – a potentially life-threatening event that could cause the child to suffocate, or the mother to bleed out – or both. Uterine ruptures in patients who have not previously undergone caesarean sections for previous births are rare, but in this case was foreseeable in light of the continued use of Pitocin in the face of the fetus’ failure to descend. Pitocin is a strong medication used to artificially create uterine contractions, which in turn increases uterine pressure. If a baby is lodged in the mother’s pelvis and uterine pressure increases and continues for a long period of time, something’s got to give. Unfortunately, in this case it was MR. Merkel’s client’s uterus that eventually burst, creating an absolute medical emergency. Doctors have a responsibility to monitor their laboring patients closely, and to intervene when an arrest of descent occurs.
Charles Merkel argued that the uterine rupture resulted from Dr. Holzhauer’s actions leading up to birth. The patient’s cervix was not favorable when the elective induction procedure was commenced by Dr. Holzhauer, and the patient was instructed to begin pushing prior to full cervical dilation, both of which were violations of the standard of care, according to the plaintiff’s expert witnesses. Later, when fetal distress was indicated the defendant failed to order a C-section in a timely manner. Additionally, Dr. Holzhauer failed to address the severe bleeding of the patient by performing a hysterectomy in a timely manner.
After the last of Dr. Holzhauer’s four surgeries in a twenty-four-hour period, another surgeon was called in to perform a fifth surgery to repair damages to the plaintiff’s bladder and urinary tract that had been caused by Dr. Holzhauer during the previous four surgeries he performed.
Again, congratulations Charles Merkel III, Esq. on obtaining this impressive verdict!