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Boy wins $6.7 million jury award after botched forceps delivery

May 24, 1997

MIAMI (AP) _ A jury awarded $6.7 million Friday to a boy whose skull was crushed after a doctor used a mislabeled pair of forceps to deliver him.

Tyler Caccamo was left with severe neurological injuries after the botched delivery at Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale in May 1990.

At 7, he cannot speak, has poor vision, is partially paralyzed on one side, is prone to seizures and wears a hockey helmet to protect him when he falls.

``He’ll be in diapers for life because he cannot be potty-trained,″ said Scott Schlesinger, a lawyer who represents Tyler and his family.

The hospital will appeal the verdict, attorney Tom Heath said. The doctor in the case, Reynald Pouliot, was not a defendant because he declared bankruptcy before the case went to trial.

``This may have been a compromise verdict by this jury in view of the injuries to the kid,″ Heath said. ``It’s hard for juries to look at this kid.″

Thirty-five weeks pregnant with her first child, Sheila Caccamo contacted her doctor, mistakenly believing that her membranes had ruptured and she was about to go into labor.

An ultrasound determined that her amniotic fluid was completely intact, but Pouliot decided to induce labor, despite objections from some nurses, Schlesinger said.

Nurses testified during the monthlong trial that the baby was not ready to be delivered because his head was still high up in the birth canal, Schlesinger said.

Pouliot called for a pair of ``fenestrated″ or open forceps to better grip the baby’s head, but technicians gave him solid-bladed forceps that were mislabeled, Schlesinger said.

The forceps slipped off the baby’s skull, causing Mrs. Caccamo, who had not been anesthetized, to bleed, he said.

Tyler eventually was delivered with the open forceps and spent his first six weeks in a coma.

Tyler ``would have been a perfectly healthy baby if they had let her go home,″ Schlesinger said.

Mrs. Caccamo and her husband, Anthony, did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

The lawsuit named the hospital’s labor-delivery nurses and nurse-anesthetist Violet Bricher. There was no directory listing for her in the Fort Lauderdale area.

The jury meted out the blame this way: Holy Cross was assigned 23 percent, Ms. Bricher received 12.5 percent, and Pouliot received 64.5 percent.

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