When Michelle Ramirez entered Seton Medical Center in 1997 for the birth of her second child, she intended to go through natural childbirth. Her first child had been delivered by Caesarean section because of fetal distress, but, says her attorney, Leanna Marchand, of Dallas’ Morgan & Weisbrod L.L.P., Ms. Ramirez had been advised by her obstetrician to go through a trial of labor with the intention of delivering vaginally unless something went wrong. The advice proved disastrous.

The child was eventually delivered by C-section, but not before a uterine rupture had drastically reduced the supply of oxygen to his brain, leading to severe, permanent brain damage. Isaac Xavier Vargas, now 2, “can’t walk and can’t talk. We don’t know yet if he’ll ever have any language, but it doesn’t look promising.” In a negligence suit against her obstetrician, Ms. Ramirez contended that she had not been properly informed of the risks of vaginal birth after Caesarean section. In June, the doctor settled for $1 million–his insurance policy limit. Ramirez v. Collins, No. 99-00331 (Dist. Ct., Travis Co., Texas).