Child with Brachial Plexus Injury Appears at Missouri Trial

A three-year-old girl, who is the center of a Madison County, Missouri birth injury trial, appeared in court this month, so that the jury could get a brief glimpse of the child with brachial plexus injury and permanent nerve root damage.

According to court documents, Jamie Rae of Staunton, mother of three-year-old Bailei Rae, filed a lawsuit in 2012 against Maryville’s Dalla Riva OB/GYN. Reportedly, Dalla Riva applied excessive pressure and traction on Bailei’s head in 2011, while Jamie Rae was giving birth.

As Balei took the stand at trial, Dr. Michael Noetzel, M.D., a neurologist and her treating physician, stood in front of the child with brachial plexus injury and demonstrated that while her right arm moved normally, her left arm would not raise or bend. Balei cooperated just enough for jurors to see the doctor’s demonstration, before becoming antsy. After a few minutes on the stand, her mother took her outside. Balei suffers from autism as well, but court documents suggest that it’s not related to her arm and her root damage.

Court documents state that Dalla Riva noticed shoulder dystocia while Balei was being delivered. Shoulder dystocia is a medical condition that occurs when an infant’s shoulders become lodged in the mother’s pelvic area during childbirth. Dalla Riva noted that after a failed attempt to turn Balei into a position where her posterior shoulder would come out, they pulled her right shoulder out first, followed by the shoulder.

After delivery, Baleis’ Apgar score was 7 and 9, and her left arm was limp and floppy.

Jamie Rae states in the lawsuit that because Balei’s large size (9 pounds, 2 ounces), she should have been delivered via cesarean section (C-Section).

While on the stand, Dr. Noetzel said that if Balei undergoes any additional surgery, it will only be to save any physical therapy and rehabilitation she has experienced so far, as her condition cannot be cured. He also went on to say that in his experience, these types of injuries generally happen during hands-on birthing. The defense cross-examined the doctor, claiming that brachial plexus injuries can occur for a number of reasons, even when mothers push too hard during the labor and delivery period.

Although Dalla Riva delivered Baleigh, the incident occurred at Maryland’s Anderson Hospital. The hospital was originally named in the lawsuit, but on April 23, Madison County’s Judge Mudge dismissed the hospital from the lawsuit.


Madison County Court, Missouri, Case 12-L-736