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As any personal injury practitioner knows, medical malpractice victories are weighted heavily in the doctor’s favor – only 39 percent of such cases end in verdicts for the injured plaintiff. Except when it’s a birth trauma case – and then the percentage jumps to 54 percent.

Tonight at 8 on WFMZ-TV 69, Christopher Naughton’s Law Journal examines “Medical Malpractice: Birth Trauma” with plaintiffs’ attorneys Carol Shepherd of Feldman Shepherd Wohlgelernter & Tanner and Peter Villari of Villari Kusturiss Brandes & Kline and defense/doctor’s counsel Andrew Worek of Weber Gallagher Simpson Stapleton Fires & Newby. The dean of the Drexel University College of Medicine, Stephen K. Klasko, who is also an Ob/Gyn, joins the discussion.

“Hands down, these are the most difficult cases,” indicated Worek, who has defended doctors throughout his career. “The sympathy factor is highest for a plaintiff who is absolutely innocent. Jurors put themselves in the place of the parents and can only imagine the depths of despair. It makes it tough for the doctors. Sympathy plus innocence plus the potential for a high verdict because the plaintiff is so young – it’s almost as if you are starting the case with a [deficit].”

The program will look at the more common birth complications, such as cerebral palsy. “This is probably the premier cause of action that stems from baby delivery,” acknowledged Worek, “but it is a common misconception that if a child is born with it, somehow it’s asphyxia, somehow it’s the doctor’s fault. Once again, it makes it a tough road for doctors – almost as if there’s an emotional burden of proof that shifts to doctors once it’s been established that a child is born with cerebral palsy.”

Law Journal broadcasts for one hour every Monday night at 8 on WFMZ-TV 69. For more information, go to www.LawJournalTV.com. Next week: “Employment and Gender Bias.”

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