Klumpke’s Palsy Lawsuits

This page was fact-checked by Dr. Francis Perry Wilson, M.D. on April 22, 2019 to ensure that it meets our rigorous editorial standards. Our writers use only legitimate, authoritative sources including government websites, legal authorities, medical society publications, and peer-reviewed medical journals.

We’re serious about providing trustworthy information that meets our publishing standards. If you find any errors, please let us know using our contact form.

Klumpke’s palsy lawsuits are filed by the parents of infants who experience a traumatic birth injury to their brachial plexus during delivery. By filing a legal claim, the family could receive compensation that will help cover the costs of ongoing medical care and other expenses arising from the paralysis.

Is your child's Klumpke's palsy related to a birth injury? Review your legal options now

How Birth Injury Leads to Klumpke’s Palsy

Delivery teams have a duty of care for both mothers and the children they are giving birth to. When a delivery doctor uses outdated or unsafe birthing methods, the baby can suffer a birth injury like Klumpke’s palsy (also known as Dejerine–Klumpke palsy).

  • Klumpke’s palsy involves damage to part (C8 and T1) of the brachial plexus, a group of cervical nerves controlling muscles in the arms.
  • Most brachial plexus injuries are caused by a delivery complication called shoulder dystocia, where the baby’s shoulder becomes stuck in the birth canal.

Some women and babies have a higher risk of shoulder dystocia than others. The most common risk factors that can lead to shoulder dystocia include:

  • Babies with a high birth weight
  • Mothers who are small in stature
  • Prolonged labor
  • Obesity
  • Gestational diabetes

When doctors recognize the development of shoulder dystocia, they may order a cesarean section (c-section) or another generally accepted medical technique to address the complication. Failure to address potential problems could lead to Klumpke’s palsy, Erb’s palsy or another birth injury.

Types of Nerve Injuries Associated with Klumpke’s Palsy

Nerve damage can occur when a nerve is stretched too far, such as by pulling or twisting the baby’s arm, neck or shoulder during delivery. The resulting force can lead to one of the following types of nerve injury:

  • Avulsion – complete severing of the nerve from the spinal cord
  • Rupture – a tear in the nerve away from the spinal cord
  • Neuroma – scar tissue that forms over a healed nerve, blocking the nerve signal
  • Neuropraxia – stretched or damaged nerve that is not actually torn, but can still cause problems

Some treatment is available for Klumpke’s palsy, depending on the severity and location of the nerve damage. Some children make a full recovery, but in many cases the nerve damage is permanent, leaving the child to struggle with disability-related problems for their whole life.

Symptoms of Klumpke’s Palsy

  • Weakness in muscles of the shoulder, arm, or hand
  • Limp, weak, or paralyzed arm
  • Muscle atrophy
  • Loss of feeling
  • Drooping of the eyelids (Horner’s Syndrome)

Did a Birth Injury Cause Klumpke’s Palsy?

Most Klumpke’s palsy cases are caused by birth injury, although it can also develop from injuries later in life. To determine if a particular injury was caused at birth, it is necessary to review the hospital records of the delivery team to see what the doctors and other medical professionals said and did during the labor and delivery process. If the team did not respond appropriately or quickly enough to complications arising during childbirth, they may be liable for medical negligence or another form of malpractice.

How Can a Klumpke’s Palsy Lawyer Help?

Parents who believe their baby’s birth injury was caused by negligence on the part of their OB/GYN or other medical providers should consider legal recourse. Families may be able to receive compensation that can help with medical costs, future treatments and other expenses related to their child’s injury.

There are a lot of considerations, such as what damages you are able to claim and how your state’s statute of limitations may affect you. Therefore, it’s important to start the legal process right away.

Klumpke’s Palsy Settlements and Verdicts

Most birth cases involve medical malpractice and medical negligence. Below are a few notable cases from recent years.

Myra Stennis – $1.85 million (Louisiana)

Myra Stennis claimed that her son, Marcus, suffers from a permanent Klumpke’s palsy injury as a result of failure to perform proper maneuvers, excessive force and negligence by Dr. Chris Rekkas during delivery in 1976. After noticing a “tight shoulder,” Dr. Rekkas allegedly pulled Marcus forcefully out of the birth canal.

Dr. Rekkas then advised Stennis to visit a pediatrician when the mother noticed her son’s arm was laying at his side and his opposite eye was drooping. Over the years, Stennis noticed her son biting his hands and nails until they bled, causing countless infections. Eventually, Stennis sued Dr. Rekkas, claiming the problems stemmed from Klumpke’s palsy. The Stennis family was awarded $1.85 million in legal damages related to the birth injury.

Adam J. Ceasar, Sr. – $100,000 (Illinois)

Adam J. Ceasar, Sr.’s wife, Elvia, was both obese and diabetic during her pregnancy. She claimed that the concerns were not treated and they were not informed of the complications this would cause during the birth of their son. When she went into labor, complications of birthing an 11-pound infant with broad shoulders resulted in a traumatic birth.

According to the lawsuit, Elvia’s obstetrician, Dr. Barry, used forceps, which were believed to have caused both Erb’s palsy and Klumpke’s palsy in the child. Ceasar was to be awarded $100,000 for the medical malpractice settlement, but Dr. Barry filed for bankruptcy and stated that the family may not receive the full amount. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled that the full amount must be awarded to Ceasar, regardless of the bankruptcy.

Klumpke’s Palsy Lawsuit FAQs

Is My Family Eligible to File a Klumpke’s Palsy Lawsuit?

Most Klumpke’s palsy cases are the result of an injury during childbirth. You may be eligible to file a lawsuit on behalf of your child if you meet the following criteria:

  • Your child’s paralysis or injury occurred during childbirth
  • Your state’s statute of limitations has not expired – laws vary from state to state, so you should consult with someone who is familiar with the rules in your location

You may still be eligible to receive compensation even if your child does not suffer permanent nerve damage or paralysis.

What Compensation Can I Receive for Klumpke’s Palsy Lawsuits?

Compensation amounts related to malpractice and personal injury lawsuits differ from state to state. In general, the following considerations will be made:

  • Out-of-pocket costs for treatment, including surgery, medication, and physical therapy
  • Lost wages, such as if a parent has to leave work or reduce hours to care for their child
  • Physical and emotional pain and suffering
  • Expected future costs of care over the child’s lifetime

Since Klumpke’s paralysis can be permanent, it is important to secure money to provide for the affected child throughout the duration of his or her lifetime. Compensatory damages from a Klumpke’s palsy lawsuit can help provide financial security into your child’s future.

How Can I Pay for a Klumpke’s Palsy Lawyer?

Since many parents who have a child with Klumpke’s palsy balance medical bills and other treatment costs for their child’s condition, hiring an injury attorney may seem like a financial burden. Oftentimes, you can file a birth injury lawsuit on a contingency basis, thereby putting off all legal costs until compensation is awarded through a settlement or verdict.

File Klumpke's Palsy Lawsuit

Get a Free Case Review Today