$2.4M awarded in medical case; Malpractice claim involved child birth

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by Robyn Adams
Waterbury Republican-American

March 16, 2005

WATERBURY — A jury has awarded a 9-year-old Waterbury girl $2.4 million in a medical malpractice suit brought against Dr. Thomas McNamee Jr., an obstetrician.

From November 1994 to May 1995, Dr. McNamee undertook the care of the girls' mother, Leslie Aponte, and for Aponte's daughter, Jodee Viera, while she was still in her mother's womb, for pregnancy, labor and delivery, court records show.

During the labor on May 25, 1995, at Waterbury Hospital, Jodee, who weighed 10 pounds at birth, got stuck behind her mother's pelvic bones and suffered permanent disfigurement to her left arm during vaginal delivery, evidence showed.

Dr. McNamee's testimony on Feb. 3 said he did nothing wrong.

In 1997, a lawsuit was filed on behalf of Jodee, her mother and her late father by the firm Koskoff, Koskoff and Bieder of Bridgeport against McNamee, Waterbury Hospital, Dr. Ian Cohen, the doctor who delivered the baby, and Associated Women's Health Specialists. Both doctors worked for the health specialists. McNamee left the group in 1997.

All but McNamee were dropped from the lawsuit before the trial started six weeks ago in Waterbury Superior Court.

Attorney Joshua Koskoff said Cohen, the hospital and specialists group were dropped because McNamee managed the delivery and should have done a Caesarean section instead of allowing a vaginal delivery.

McNamee is represented by the law firm of Tyler, Cooper and Alcorn of New Haven. Regina Duchin Kraus, who represents the doctor, said she and her client disagree with the verdict of March 3.

"We believe we will prevail on post-trial briefs, if not on appeal," Kraus said. "He (Dr. McNamee) did not do the actual delivery. He managed her labor. I think the verdict was wrong. I think the weight of the evidence goes against the verdict.

Koskoff said Aponte asked Dr. McNamee to give her a Caesarean section but he didn't.

"Dr. McNamee was managing the delivery and should have done the Caesarean section," Koskoff said. "He was managing it throughout the day. His position was he blamed the failure of the baby to be delivered on the mother. He took the position that she wasn't trying hard enough. He didn't do any investigation that the baby might be too big, and that a condition of the baby being too big, known as macrosomia, is a major risk factor for shoulder dystocia (stuck shoulders). She got stuck behind the pelvic bones and wasn't breathing."

Kraus countered that McNamee made a professional decision against performing a Caesarean section because it's a potentially dangerous procedure that was unnecessary for Aponte.

"You don't perform a Caesarean section just like that," she said. "It has to be done with careful consideration of the risks and benefits."

Kraus instead blamed Aponte for failing to cooperate with McNamee.

"She refused to participate in the delivery. She refused to push," Kraus said.

Jodee, who attends school, has limited mobility in her left arm. She can't buckle a belt, take a sweater off or button it and she cannot do her hair, Koskoff said.

Probate Court appointed a guardian of Jodee's estate to ensure money from the award goes toward her medical care, which will include surgery to transplant nerves to her left arm. Koskoff's firm will receive about $400,000 as its fee.

Reporter Randy James contributed to this story.