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Thompson v. Capaldo

December 3, 2008

RASHAD THOMPSON PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT
v.
GUY CAPALDO, M.D., ET AL. DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES



CHARACTER OF PROCEEDING: Civil Appeal from the Court of Common Pleas, Case No. 2005 CV 00573.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Wise, J.

JUDGES: Hon. W. Scott Gwin, P.J., Hon. Sheila G. Farmer, J., Hon. John W. Wise, J.

OPINION

JUDGMENT: Affirmed

{¶1} Plaintiff-Appellant Rashad Thompson appeals the December 7, 2007, verdict entered in the Richland County Court of Common Pleas following a jury trial, finding that Defendant-Appellees Guy Capaldo, M.D. and Women's Care, Inc. had not violated the standard of care.

STATEMENT OF THE FACTS AND CASE

{¶2} Karen Thompson was first seen by Defendant-Appellant Mansfield OB/GYN dba Women's Care, Inc. on April 15, 1986. At that time, she was 28 years of age and pregnant with her third child. Her first two children were delivered in 1978 and 1979. Her estimated due date was calculated to be October 2, 1986. During her pregnancy, she saw various physicians at Women's Care, as is customary in many obstetrical practices.

{¶3} On or about October 12, 1986, Karen Thompson was admitted to Mansfield General Hospital for the delivery of her third child. (T. Vol. III at 458). Defendant-Appellant Guy Capaldo, M.D., one of the doctors in the Mansfield Obstetrics and Gynecology group, was handling the deliveries at the facility that day. Prior to that date, he had never met the mother. Id.

{¶4} Ms. Thompson was in labor when she arrived at the hospital at around 6:30 a.m. but did not enter the active or second stage of labor until approximately 9:30 a.m. The active phase of labor begins when a woman's cervix is 4 cm. dilated and continues until the cervix is fully dilated at 10 cm., at which time she is instructed to begin pushing.

{¶5} At approximately 10:47 a.m., Dr. Capaldo applied forceps for the first time in an effort to assist in delivery of Appellant Rashad Thompson's head. He applied forceps because of concerning decelerations on the fetal heart monitor and because Ms. Thompson was tiring and having difficulty continuing to push. He applied the forceps on three occasions and delivered the head after the final forceps application at 10:58 a.m. (T. at 878-879, 911). The records reflect that Appellant's umbilical cord was loosely wrapped around his neck and was released by Dr. Capaldo. He suctioned Appellant's nose and mouth, which is a standard maneuver to prevent the infant from inhaling blood, mucous and other fluids once the body is delivered and the infant takes his initial breath. (T. at 872-873). The records reflect that Appellant was delivered two minutes after his head was delivered. In the nursery, Appellant's left arm was noted to be limp, and he has since been diagnosed with a permanent left brachial plexus injury.

{¶6} Appellant's theory was that the left brachial plexus injury was due to a shoulder dystocia at the time of delivery. Shoulder dystocia is an obstetrical emergency in which one of the baby's shoulders becomes stuck under the pubic bone or sacral prominence after the head is delivered, making it more difficult to accomplish delivery. (T. at 422, 723).

{¶7} On June 6, 2005, Appellant Rashad Thompson, then eighteen years old, filed a medical negligence action against Appellees, Guy Capaldo, M.D. and Mansfield OB/GYN dba Women's Care, Inc. alleging that negligence by Appellees at the time of his birth resulted in permanent injury to his left brachial plexus, which is a bundle of nerves arising in the neck and supplying motor and sensory functions to the arm, resulting in limited use of his left arm.

{¶8} On June 30, 2005, Appellees filed an Answer to Appellant's Complaint and the parties proceeded with discovery.

{¶9} On November 29, 2007, trial commenced in the Richland County Court of Common Pleas. Appellant was twenty-one years old at the time of trial.

{¶10} On December 7, 2007, the jury returned its unanimous verdict in favor of Appellees, finding in response to Jury Interrogatory No. 1 that Dr. Capaldo had not been negligent in the care and treatment provided at the time of Appellant's birth. It is from that verdict that Appellant now seeks review by this Court.

{¶11} Appellant now raises the following assignments of error:

ASSIGNMENTS OF ERROR

{¶12} "I. A NEW TRIAL IS NECESSARY BECAUSE OF THE TRIAL JUDGE'S REFUSAL TO PROHIBIT DEFENDANT-APPELLEES FROM UTILIZING A PEREMPTORY CHALLENGE TO REMOVE THE ONLY AFRICAN-AMERICAN JUROR FROM THE PANEL.

{¶13} "II. THE TRIAL JUDGE ABUSED HIS DISCRETION BY PROHIBITING PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT FROM IMPEACHING THE DEFENDANT AND HIS EXPERTS WITH NURSES' NOTES FROM A SIMILAR DELIVERY INVOLVING SHOULDER DYSTOCIA.

{¶14} "III. THE TRIAL JUDGE ABUSED HIS DISCRETION BY PROHIBITING PLAINTIFF FROM CROSS-EXAMINING A DEFENSE EXPERT WITH A PROPERLY AUTHENTICATED LEARNED TREATISE.

{¶15} "IV. A FURTHER ABUSE OF DISCRETION WAS COMMITTED WHEN THE TRIAL JUDGE REFUSED TO ALLOW PLAINTIFF TO QUESTION THE DEFENDANT AND HIS EXPERTS ABOUT THE OBSTETRICIAN'S EXCEEDINGLY HIGH COMPLICATION RATE.

{ΒΆ16} "V. THE TRIAL JUDGE ERRED, AS A MATTER OF LAW, BY INSTRUCTING THE JURY THAT THEY WERE NOT TO CONSIDER THE OUTCOME OF THE DELIVERY IN DETERMINING ...


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