In December 2006, Dr. Ayoade Akere used a vacuum to pull the baby of Lajide and Afolake Lawoyin through the birth canal, failing to realize that the baby had become stuck. As a result, Oladasoyin Lawoyin suffered from shoulder dystocia and was born with a “floppy, lifeless” arm, resulting from injury to the nerves running from the middle of her cervical spine down to her right arm.
Oladasoyin, now ten years old, has improved, but the effects of her birth injury are permanent in terms of reduced range of motion.
Several factors complicated the legal issues surrounding the Lawoyin case. Lawoyin had significant weight gain during her pregnancy, which is consistent for the risk of shoulder dystocia. Dr. Akere, who did not have privileges to use a vacuum, had called the hospital’s in-house physician to employ the delivery aid.
Yet it was Dr. Akere who had delivered the baby’s shoulders. It was only upon discharge that the parents were notified of the injury to their baby, not directly following the delivery. Dr. Akere tried to claim that the mother’s internal cervical contractions caused the baby’s injuries before any physician had touched her, but an expert testified that there was simply “no way” Oladasoyin’s injury could have resulted from the circumstances Dr. Akere presented.
The jury awarded the Lawoyins a total of $2 million for disfigurement and future lost earnings as well as past and future disability, pain and suffering, and medical expenses.