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Minnesota Hypoxic-ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE) Lawyers
Hypoxic-ischemic birth injuries are all too common. Worldwide, hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is the fifth leading cause of death in children under age five. The majority of babies who do survive a birth injury caused by oxygen deprivation — many of whom will not be diagnosed until weeks or even months after the injury occurred — will need lifelong care and accommodation.
Tragically, HIE is often the result of medical malpractice. As the parent of an HIE child, you have a long emotionally and physically challenging road ahead of you. Seeking legal advice from a Minnesota Birth Injury Attorney to learn how you can hold the doctor and others who caused your child’s HIE financially responsible is the right thing to do for your child and for your entire family.
Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) — also referred to as birth asphyxia, perinatal asphyxia and neonatal encephalopathy — is a type of brain damage. It is the result of a birth injury that causes oxygen deprivation and reduced blood flow immediately before or during the birth process.
There are a variety of birth complications that can cause HIE, and many are the result of medical malpractice. Examples of the types of negligent actions that can be the cause of your child’s HIE include:
Improperly Managed High-Risk Pregnancy
Expectant mothers with certain medical conditions, such as gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, are at increased risk for complications. If you had these conditions during your pregnancy, there is a chance that your health care providers did not provide you with the level of monitoring and treatment your condition required.
Umbilical Cord, Placental or Uterine Complications
Complications involving the umbilical cord, placenta or uterus, when not properly identified and treated, can interfere with the baby receiving enough oxygenated blood, resulting in HIE. Examples include:
- Any type of umbilical cord compression before or during birth
- Placental abruption, where the placenta separates from the uterus before the baby is born
- Placenta previa, caused by the placenta attaching too closely to the cervix
- Placental insufficiency, which means the placenta is unable to deliver adequate amounts of blood to the baby
- Uterine rupture, where the uterus partially or completely tears
Infections During Labor and Delivery
If the mother has an infection, it can spread to the baby during labor and delivery if the doctor does not take appropriate measures. If you had an infection when you had your baby, it was your doctor’s responsibility to conduct an infection screening and prescribe antibiotics if indicated. The failure to do so could have resulted in a birth injury.
Failure to Properly Monitor the Fetal Heart Rate
If a mother and baby are being properly monitored, any signs of fetal distress can almost always be addressed before any permanent injury from oxygen deprivation occurs. This may result in an emergency cesarean section, but the baby will be spared a birth injury. If monitoring is neglected or sporadic, the chances increase that the danger signs of oxygen deprivation and other issues will be missed.
Prolonged uterine contractions during a labor that is not progressing fast enough can harm your baby. It is your doctor’s responsibility to know when labor is going on too long. If this happened to you, your doctor should have offered you a medically sound intervention, such as an emergency C-section, before your baby could develop HIE from oxygen deprivation.
If you delivered your baby prematurely and the result was a baby with HIE or another birth injury, you are within your rights to question whether your caregivers did everything possible to prevent the premature birth. There are interventions available — such as progesterone treatment or cervical cerclage — that are often successful at stopping early delivery. If your doctor failed to address your risk of premature birth, you could have a malpractice claim against them.
Improperly Inducing Labor
If your doctor gave you medication to induce or hurry up your labor, this could have contributed to your baby’s HIE. Medicines such as Cytotec and Pitocin can make your uterine contractions so strong that they actually deprive the baby of oxygen.
If your baby developed a neonatal condition — such as hypoglycemia, respiratory distress or jaundice —that was not properly managed, hypoxic-ischemic injury could have been the result. In other words, your baby might have developed HIE as a result of neglect during the first month following birth.
Some babies manifest signs of hypoxic-ischemic injury right away. They have breathing or feeding problems and have low Apgar scores, all tell-tale signs of HIE. You might notice shortly after birth that your baby does not respond to loud noises or just does not seem alert. These signs might have been severe enough that you took your baby to the doctor and received the HIE diagnosis.
But often, you may not find out your baby has HIE for weeks or months. This is because HIE brain injuries worsen over time. In fact, there is a chain reaction of sorts that occurs when the brain is deprived of oxygen. The affected cells die, releasing toxic substances that, in turn, cause injury to other brain cells. For this reason, hypoxic-ischemic brain injuries may not – and often don’t – manifest immediately.
In fact, the symptoms that come from brain damage may not be noticed until the baby fails to meet certain developmental milestones such as crawling or walking. These child-development delays are the catalyst for further testing that can lead to the HIE brain damage diagnosis.
How HIE affects any particular child depends on what parts of the brain sustained injury and how extensive the damage was. Because of this, no two cases of HIE brain damage are ever exactly the same. A child with severe HIE might develop cerebral palsy or other types of motor disorders. He or she could also develop epilepsy, seizures, and seizure disorders. In fact, any child who is affected by an HIE-causing event could end up with one, several, or all of these afflictions, along with a myriad of additional health and developmental concerns, including:
- Brain bleeds (intracranial hemorrhages)
- Hearing issues
- Learning disabilities
- Neurological and mental health issues, including emotional/behavioral disorders
- Respiratory conditions
- Sensory processing issues
- Skin afflictions
- Speech delays and/or language disorders
- Orthopedic issues and pain
- Vision issues
Under Minnesota law, damages for medical malpractice are unlimited. In other words, you are entitled to seek amounts to cover all of the costs that will be incurred for your child’s entire lifetime. While it is impossible to know the exact needs of each child going forward, children with HIE that resulted from medical malpractice can typically recover the lifetime costs of:
- Making the home handicap accessible
- Adaptive equipment, such as wheelchairs, special beds, commode and bathing adaptations for accessibility
- Assistive technology
- Access to special education
- Medical care and medication
- Physical and occupational therapy
- Lost earning capacity or lost wages of the parents
- Pain and suffering and emotional distress
In certain cases, you can also recover additional damages that, rather than being linked to the actual cost of care, are intended to punish those who caused the harm.
We recommend meeting with one of our experienced Minnesota Medical Malpractice Attorneys to undergo a thorough case review as soon as possible after diagnosis, as there are time limits for bringing suit. A successful HIE lawsuit depends on collecting, preserving, and properly presenting all the evidence that will show how the medical personnel, the hospital, and/or any others contributed to your child’s birth injury.
Call our Minnesota Medical Birth Injury Lawyer today at 612.349.2723 or fill out our free consultation form below.
THE MADIA LAW WAY
We have a process that works in getting exceptional results for our clients.
We are trial lawyers who prepare every case for trial from Day 1. Investigation and legal research are the first things we do, and we spend a lot of time on them. Because we haven’t filed the case yet, we have complete control – the defendant has no say and we want to use this time wisely. We interview witnesses that can help us prove the case. We’ll ask you for all relevant documents in your possession and review those carefully as well. We also will spend some time conducting legal research about unique issues in the case. We pull the jury instructions that the judge will ultimately charge the jury with after closing arguments at trial.
Our next step is typically to send a demand letter to the defendant. In the letter, we thoroughly lay out: the facts surrounding the defendant’s misconduct; the applicable law (including statutory and case citations) that make clear that the defendant broke the law; an analysis of your damages and the defendant’s monetary exposure; a demand for a monetary amount to settle the claim; and an instruction to preserve all relevant evidence, including electronic evidence. The point of this letter is to give the defendant a chance to do the right thing and pay a fair amount before litigation, and to give the defendant an opportunity to present any defenses or evidence it wants us to consider before moving forward. Sometimes we skip the demand letter if there are strategic reasons to move straight to filing, but we typically give defendants a chance to do the right thing.
If early negotiations fail, great – we file a Complaint and serve the defendant with it. A Complaint is a legal document that states the facts of what happened and alleges how the defendant broke the law. It formally starts the lawsuit. Many lawyers draft complaints in a general and relatively vague way, just to get it done and filed – because that’s all that’s really required. We take a different view. We view the Complaint as our first chance to tell your story to the judge, and we take it seriously. So we draft detailed complaints and include legal citations to statutory and judicial authority on unique points. Sometimes we’ll include a number of exhibits, diagrams, or other demonstrative aids to help the Court understand our claims. A secondary benefit of this approach is that defense lawyers reading the Complaint can become educated on the problems of their case and the state of the law – sometimes this leads them to reach out to us shortly after service of the Complaint to re-initiate settlement negotiations. Of course, by that time, the price for settlement has gone up.
Some lawyers view written discovery as a necessary evil – something to get done and out of the way before depositions. Not us. Written discovery is a gift and an opportunity. We spend a great deal of time crafting requests for documents and interrogatories (questions for the defendant to answer in writing) that are specific, detailed, and tailored to get what we need to prove our case. Many lawyers – even great ones – think written discovery is a waste of time because defense lawyers typically answer them on behalf of their clients and can try to stonewall with legalese and objections. We view this as a wonderful opportunity. In our experience, most defense lawyers can’t help themselves when answering discovery: they over-state their defenses and make assertions that their clients will not be able to support in testimony. So we get to commit the defendant to defenses that they can’t back up, leading to contradictions, confusion, and chaos in their depositions later on. We also use Requests for Admission – which many lawyers don’t. The Federal Rules and Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure allow us to ask defendants to “admit” certain facts. We send them RFAs that are very difficult for them to deny. Of course, they do it anyway, but that sets them up later for cost and fee-shifting, which the Rules mandate for defendants that deny RFAs that are later proven true. And usually, we can get the defendants’ own witnesses to admit facts that their defense lawyers denied in RFA. That’s a great situation that leads to more chaos and confusion on the defense side.
One last point on written discovery – we send multiple waves of it throughout discovery. We typically send 3 or 4 sets of written discovery requests to defendants throughout discovery. This compounds the problems for them, because the defense lawyers continue to overstate their defenses, but now run into contradictions from not just the defendant witnesses’ deposition testimony, but also their own previous discovery responses. This makes for a great record that we can present to the judge at dispositive motions, and use for impeachment at trial.
This is our chance to question relevant witnesses, on the record with a court reporter (we typically videotape important depositions as well). We get to confront the defense witnesses with all of the evidence we’ve developed through written discovery and document production. By this time, the defendant put its witnesses in an impossible position through its written defenses, which are often untrue and indefensible. So the witness has to either lie to support the defense, or admit it’s not true. That’s a dilemma that works for our clients either way, no matter which option the witness takes. We use depositions to expose contradictions, create a record for dispositive motions, lock witnesses into their stories so that we can impeach them later at trial, and sometimes, to show defense lawyers how hopeless their case is. We often calls from defense counsel shortly after depositions of their clients, seeking to re-start settlement negotiations.
The defendant will usually make a motion for summary judgment after discovery, asking the Court to throw out the case without having a jury trial. Because we’ve hit discovery so hard – both through written discovery and depositions – this is a tough motion for defense counsel to write in our cases. We draft our response for the Court and now get to bring everything together: the admissions, contradictions, nonsense, and obvious fact disputes that we’ve uncovered through discovery. We tell a compelling story that wraps everything together for the Court and makes clear that the defense motion has to be denied, and the defendant needs to face a jury for its conduct.
Sometimes, we’ll even make an affirmative motion for summary judgment, asking the Court to grant judgment in favor of our client without a trial. These motions are generally rare for plaintiffs to make, because the defendant can usually point to some fact dispute on its intent or some other factor that necessitates a trial. But we make affirmative summary judgment motions significantly more than is typical for plaintiffs, and that’s because the work we put in during discovery helps build a fantastic record to do so.
After the Court denies the defense motion for summary judgment, the defendant has only 2 options: 1) do the right thing and pay you a fair amount to our client to settle your claim (usually much, much more at this point than the defendant could have paid at the beginning of the case to settle); or 2) face a jury for its conduct and risk an enormous verdict. This is the dilemma that we have been creating and forcing the defendant into for the entire case. We’ll engage in settlement negotiations at this point from a position of extreme strength, mainly because most defendants are (rightly) terrified of facing a jury to defend their conduct.
This is, candidly, our favorite part of the case – why we went to law school: to hold the powerful accountable before juries. We prepare heavily for trial, including: detailed witness preparation, focus groups, and mock trials. At this point, the potential outcomes and consequences for the defendant are much more severe than if it simply did the right thing at the beginning of the case and paid a fair amount to compensate our client for its misconduct. As we advocate to the jury for our client, we’re also mindful of protecting the record so that defendants will be unsuccessful in attacking the verdict in post-trial motions or appeal.
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I was referred to Ashwin Madia when it became evident that my case was going to jury trial. He is definitely an expert as a trial lawyer. I found him to be very straightforward, no nonsense, a clear communicator, and I was pleased with the outcome he brought at trial. I would recommend him, and I would go to him again to represent me if the need ever arises.
I would encourage you to spend some time reading Mr. Madia's impressive bio. If that doesn't have you convinced, I will tell you that as someone who spent over 19 years in law enforcement, I have never seen a better trial lawyer than Ashwin. His passion, expertise, ethical commitment, and his incredible memory of the facts, were some of the major reasons I prevailed in my discrimination lawsuit against my employer.Thanks again!
I was referred to Ashwin Madia by a friend, who is also a lawyer. Mr. Madia and his partners dove into my case and prepared for trial in three weeks. Madia Law Firm markets itself as a "trial" driven law firm, and it did not disappoint. Mr. Madia overwhelmed opposing counsel, and after 5 days of trial, the jury ruled in my favor.
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I have the utmost respect for Ashwin Madia. Ashwin is professional, knowledgeable, sharp, and genuine. After three years of litigating against my employer, I found myself financially and emotionally drained.
I was ready to give up.
Just five weeks before trial, Ashwin agreed to take on my case and did an amazing and spectacular job at trial! We won! I am so thankful there are people like Ashwin in this world. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!
After being referred to Ashwin Madia I wasn't sure what to expect. Many times in the past I felt unsure of myself. I knew I wanted justice but many times in the past I've had to just walk away. This time was different; if you have the opportunity to get Ashwin Madia to represent you, I know you will have the ammunition you need to defeat your opposition to get the justice your seeking.
This is a spectacular attorney with the understanding of the rights and feelings of others, with the willingness to protect and stand up for those that may not have a voice. I thank you so much Mr. Madia.
Joshua Newville is a brilliant and tenacious attorney. When I met with him, I was close to giving up hope that I would find a solution with my employer, which is a large company with a General Counsel. Josh said he'd take on my case. He then got my employer to agree to mediation, an avenue it had previously refused while it engaged in delaying tactics for years. The fact that Josh brought them to the table was a feat in and of itself. Josh, along with lawyers from Gender Justice, fought to obtain an equitable settlement and to ensure that the issues of wrong-doing were addressed through policy changes within the company. I am incredibly grateful to have had Josh advocate for me. He is skilled, determined, and motivated to get justice for his clients.
I would highly recommend Madia Law. My experience with attorney Joshua Newville and legal assistant Sara Ion exceeded my expectations! I had a need for employment-related legal experts, and I explored three other firms before an attorney friend recommended Madia Law. My initial consultation with Joshua was superb, and throughout the entire process I felt heard and understood. My one regret was not contacting them sooner, as one important deadline had passed. Despite that, our result was far better -- and quicker -- than any of us expected. Thank you Joshua, Sara and Madia Law!
Aswhin is an incredible trial lawyer. When we realized that a claim against our business was definitely going to a jury trial in federal court we switched counsel to Ashwin and his team. At the 11th hour they got spun up on the facts and the law (intellectual property) and delivered an amazing performance against a huge "downtown" law firm. From the beginning of his opening statement it was clear that we made the right choice.
I can't recommend Madia Law highly enough.
I worked with Madia Law for three years on multiple, complex cases. A challenging and emotional situation was handled with professionalism, tenacity and frequent communication by Mr. Newville. I can't speak highly enough about Mr. Newville's ability to quickly understand complex technical issues and synthesize them into strong arguments. I would not hesitate to contact Madia Law in the future should the need arise!
If I could give Joshua Newville with Madia Law 10 stars I would! Josh explained exactly WHAT he intended to do, and the outcome he hoped could be achieved as well as each scenario in between.
Honestly I thought it all sounded too good to be true.
Josh approached the other party in my case with civility and solutions versus aggression and hostility. I feel confident this influenced the other party’s willingness to work for a mutually agreeable solution. If you need someone to fight for your best interest in a work situation, you won't find ANYONE who will do a better job!
Joshua Newville is a bright star to watch. During the handling of our case, he was thorough and highly competent. We were extremely satisfied with the outcome of Josh’s hard work on our behalf. Josh was excellent in communicating information and always promptly responded to correspondence we initiated. Josh had an exceptional grasp of the complexities involved in our case and was current on evolving national rulings/events and resulting implications for our situation. I highly recommend Madia Law.
Ash is an amazing Lawyer! He gave us great advice but still made sure the decision at the end was ours. He was willing to fight for us and did a wonderful job. I could not be more pleased with the outcome and I recommend him highly to anyone in the need of a lawyer. Ash was so smart and did such a great job of helping us understand the process and make sense of it all. He is not only extremely good at his job but he is also a great person. He lets his guard down and by the end of the process he felt more like a friend who was fighting for what was right! I can not say enough good things about him!
Attorney Zane Umstead recently represented my family's interest in a difficult legal situation. He was quite effective and direct in dealing with the opposing party; yet to us he was very kind, thoughtful and courteous. He even generously offered to waive his entire legal fee after spending a generous amount of his time working hard on the case, if we elected not to bring the conflict to a conclusion. His integrity is exemplary and he makes his profession respectable. We highly recommend Attorney Umstead with great enthusiasm.
What can I say about Madia Law, working with Zane and Cody was a privilege, working with Ashwin was a honor. This firm shows great appreciation and care to their clients. I wish nothing but success to all of them.
The future of Madia law is bright and prosperous.
Thank you again for believing in me and showing the little guy counts.