Brooklyn Boro

SKETCHES OF COURT: Large damages awarded for overlong second-stage childbirth

May 11, 2018 By Alba Acevedo Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Court sketch by Alba Acevedo

In this courtroom sketch, Hon. Ellen Spodek listens as defendant’s attorney Raymond Belair (standing), of the law firm Belair & Evans, addresses the jury during summations in the medical malpractice trial Zafir v. Klinger, M.D. Attorney David Kownacki and co-counsel Toby Schwarz (at right), of the law offices of David P. Kownacki, represented the plaintiff. Court reporter Jennie Fantasia recorded the proceedings.

Devorah Zafir experienced a difficult labor at a Staten Island hospital — her first pregnancy — before giving birth to a healthy baby in January 2012. The slightly built 27-year-old Zafir was 21 at the time, and her baby was in occipito posterior (face up) position during labor and delivery. The newborn’s head measured in the 90th percentile for size.

Zafir claimed medical malpractice in that her second stage of labor was allowed to proceed overlong. Zafir suffered a 2.3 cm pubic bone separation, as well as nerve compression that caused foot drop. Kownacki alleges that these were avoidable conditions had a C-section been performed, instead of natural birth.

Kownacki further maintained that while Zafir’s foot drop has benefitted from physical therapy and chiropractic care, Zafir continues to suffer groin pain and lower back discomfort from the separated pubic symphysis, and is likely to require C-sections for future births and will be at greater risk for bladder, uterine and vaginal prolapse.

Belair disputed the contention of overlong labor, noting Zafir’s refusal to push for long periods during the second stage. Belair maintained that the pregnancy complications were unpredictable and unpreventable.

The jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff, awarding $1,000,000 compensation for past pain and suffering, and $200,000 for future pain and suffering. Defendant’s post-trial motions are pending in the case that resolved in Kings County Civil Term.

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