Three years after the tragic death of their son, Sara and Jarad Snyder were awarded a $5 million judgment by Ingham County Circuit Judge Clinton Canady. However, it’s unlikely the grieving family will collect any of the money, as the midwife in question, Clarice Winkler, did not carry malpractice insurance.
Not that they would rather have the money, the Snyders simply wanted Winkler to be held accountable for her actions.
The Snyders’ attorney Brian McKeen called the judge’s ruling a ‘hollow victory’ because, since Winkler did not respond to the allegations against her, it resulted in a default judgment. Furthermore, the couple did not get to confront Winkler in court.
The silver lining is that by ruling in the Snyders’ favor in such a large way, the judge acknowledged the severity of the negligence in the case, thus setting a precedent for other incidents like it.
Sara Snyder learned that her son, Magnus, was breech around 32 weeks into her pregnancy. Winkler told her that a vaginal delivery of a breech baby outside of a hospital was safe. After going into labor, Sara spent six hours pushing only to have her son’s head to be stuck in the birth canal. Winkler then attempted to pull the infant from Sara’s body for seven minutes. Once Magnus was freed, he was blue and lifeless.
The staff at Greenhouse tried for four minutes to revive the infant, but called for an ambulance when their efforts failed. Magnus spent 13 days in neonatal intensive care at Sparrow Hospital before passing away from severe brain damage and organ failure.
In addition to being found guilty by the court, Winkler has also been found negligent by Michigan’s state Nursing Board because of the state Attorney General’s investigation. She has since surrendered her license to practice.
Originally, the lawsuit named the Greenhouse Birth Center in Okemos, Michigan, along with three of their midwives. The midwives all filed bankruptcy and since the Snyders couldn’t afford to fight all three, they decided not to pursue the other two midwives. The decision to pursue Winkler over the other two women stems from her being disciplined by the state previously for an out-of-hospital birth that went wrong. In that case, her license was suspended after she was found negligent in a homebirth of an infant that weighed only four pounds.
Moreover, after the deaths of three other newborns were revealed, Greenhouse closed its doors. Previously, Greenhouse had been the center of the out-of-hospital birth movement.
While this series of events are tragic, out-of-hospital births—if performed correctly—can allow birthing mothers the opportunity to deliver in a more controllable setting than a hospital. However, if you feel that your child was injured because of a doctor or midwife’s error, please schedule a free consultation with birth injury attorneys at Tennessee’s Gilreath & Associates today. We can help you build your case.
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