Birth Injury Results In $15.35 Million Settlement -- Largest Ever Recorded In DeKalb County

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A birth injury from alleged institutional negligence results in a $15.35 million medical malpractice settlement -- the largest ever recorded in DeKalb County.

Hospitals have an independent responsibility for the safety of their patients

Attorneys Michael P. Schostok and Matthew L. Williams of the law firm Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard, P.C. have obtained a $15.35 million medical malpractice settlement on behalf of a child who suffered a brain injury during birth.

The settlement was approved May 20 by Judge Kurt Klein and is the largest settlement ever in DeKalb County. It is believed to be one of the largest of its kind in the state of Illinois.

On October 19, 2001, 19-year-old Vanessa Jenkins of Aurora, was admitted to Valley West Community Hospital in Sandwich, Illinois, for the delivery of her son, Cody Smithey. Vanessa Jenkins' labor proceeded uneventfully until one of the defendants, Dr. Martin Brauweiler, chose to use a vacuum extractor device to assist in the delivery of the minor plaintiff.

Over the next 50 minutes, Dr. Martin Brauweiler used the vacuum extraction device 18 times without success. Another doctor was finally called in to perform an emergency c-section after Cody's fetal heart tones demonstrated distress. Cody, now six years old, suffered brain injuries as a result of Dr. Brauweiler's alleged negligence in using the Kiwi vacuum extractor device.

According to Attorney Michael P. Schostok, the plaintiffs alleged that Dr. Brauweiler, a family practitioner, was not competent in the use of the vacuum extractor device. The plaintiffs also claimed that Dr. Brauweiler negligently failed to discontinue using the vacuum extractor device after the first couple of attempts were unsuccessful.

The plaintiffs further alleged that the nursing staff who assisted Dr. Brauweiler, negligently failed to advocate for Vanessa by insisting that Dr. Brauweiler stop using the vacuum when it was obvious he could not deliver the child using this device.

More importantly, the plaintiffs alleged that Valley West Community Hospital failed to exercise reasonable care in evaluating Dr. Brauweiler's competency and fitness to perform vacuum deliveries at their hospital. There was no evidence that Dr. Brauweiler provided adequate documentation establishing his competency to safely perform vacuum assisted deliveries. The plaintiffs claimed that Valley West Community Hospital was put on notice of Dr. Brauweiler's lack of competence when in 1999 the doctor settled another malpractice case involving the delivery of a child at Valley West Community Hospital where the doctor used a vacuum device and forceps. The child in that delivery died shortly after birth.

"Hospitals have an independent responsibility for the safety of their patients," said Attorney Michael Schostok. "This duty requires that hospitals use reasonable care to determine the qualifications of doctors on their medical staff. In this case, Valley West Community Hospital knew or should have known that Dr. Martin Brauweiler, who was a family practitioner, was not competent in the use of vacuum extractors to deliver babies. He should never have been given privileges to use one. Had a vacuum extractor not been used during Cody's delivery, he would not have been brain-injured."

Case Information: [CODY GENE SMITHEY, a minor, by VANESSA JENKINS, Parent and Guardian, and VANESSA JENKINS, individually, Plaintiffs, vs. MARTIN BRAUWEILER, M.D., individually, SANDWICH MEDICAL CLINIC, S.C., VALLEY WEST COMMUNITY HOSPITAL, an Illinois Corporation, PEGGY L. WILSON, R.N., individually, and MEDICAL STAFFING NETWORK, an Illinois Corporation. Defendants. NO. 03 L 57.]

For more information on the Smithey case, Michael Schostok, Matthew Williams or the Law Firm of Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., please contact Christina Solomon at 312-372-1227. Visit the firm online at


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