A Superior Court jury has awarded a Bridgeport woman $4.25 million because of permanent spinal cord injuries suffered in 2009 when, according to the plaintiff’s lawyers, an anesthesiologist “negligently utilized an anesthesia needle” when attempting to give an epidural during childbirth.

Erika Andrade now has chronic pain and permanent leg damage, and a host of other related injuries, injuries that at some point could result in paralysis. according to her attorneys. She also says she has depression and trouble getting comfortable with sleeping.

The lawsuit was filed against Dr. William Gacso and Medical Anesthesiology Associates, of Shelton. The plaintiffs blame the error on physician fatigue.

“Dr. Gasco had just concluded a 24-hour shift when Erika needed anesthesia, an epidural, while she was delivering her third child,” said Sean McElligott, of Koskoff, Koskoff and Bieder, who represented Andrade. “He inserted the needle into the wrong part of her back causing the permanent, painful result.”

According to the lawsuit, the needle contacted Andrade’s terminal spinal cord, causing a cystic lesion such that she “has been permanently deprived of her ability to carry on and enjoy life’s activities.” She is expected to continue to incur medical expenses for years and years.

McElligott said the verdict ended six years “of sometimes very contentious litigation.” His co-counsel in the case, David Bernard, also of Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder, also took issue with the doctor’s decision to undertake the delicate procedure when he had not slept for a day. “Anyone working steadily for 24 hours, without sleep, cannot possibly provide peak performance,” Bernard said. “A doctor going without sleep for 24 hours should know that accidents are more likely to occur. In this case, it is clear that Dr. Gacso should never have attempted the epidural on Erika. He should have known to call in a substitute anesthesiologist.”

Gasco was represented by attorneys from Heidell, Pittoni, Murphy & Bach in Bridgeport.