Two families are suing a Lewis County midwife, citing negligence while attempting to deliver their babies, causing the death of one newborn, and permanent injuries to another.
“It’s a daily struggle, waking up, wondering what my life would be like if my son was here,” Kylie Frost said. She filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Laura Hamilton, a Chehalis midwife.
Frost delivered a stillborn baby, Oliver, after a four-hour attempted delivery at Hamilton’s Centralia business in December 2014. The lawsuit alleges the midwife downplayed symptoms such as “horrible pain,” fist-sized blood clots, and bleeding, which should have been reasons to send Frost to a hospital immediately.
“She kept reassuring me that ‘no, you’re fine, you’re OK,’ and I wasn’t,” Frost said.
After hours of contractions, Hamilton advised Frost to attempt another push, the lawsuit states. Frost said she pushed and felt a horrible pain. Hamilton checked the fetal heart rate and could not detect a pulse. Only then did she call 911, according to the lawsuit.
The deceased baby was delivered via caesarean section at a hospital and would've survived had Hamilton made the decision to rush Frost to the emergency room hours earlier when she passed blood clots, the lawsuit states.
Hamilton, who has an active midwife license in Washington, is the target of a second lawsuit. It's expected to be filed on Wednesday in Lewis County by a couple who claims their son was left with paralysis in his arm after delivery at Hamilton’s birthing center in April 2014.
“I noticed right away that my son’s arm was not moving, it was a total limp noodle,” Seng Hamilton said. Her husband is a distant cousin of Laura Hamilton.
Seng Hamilton’s son Zachary was quite large, 10 lbs., 3 oz., and the delivery appeared to be stalled after several contractions and attempted childbirth maneuvers, the family said.
“A lot of people were panicking, and the baby wouldn’t come out,” Seng Hamilton said.
Her lawsuit claims Laura Hamilton used excessive force when she pulled and twisted the baby’s head and neck to deliver him.
Doctors later determined Zachary suffered injuries to the network of nerves in his shoulder, which control arm movement, according to the lawsuit.
Zachary, who is now three, has little movement in his arm, Seng Hamilton said.
“A baby of this size should’ve been delivered via C-section and should’ve gone to the doctor,” Simeon Osborn, a lawyer who represents both families, said. “It was Laura Hamilton’s responsibility to get this woman to a hospital, and she didn’t do it.”
The lawsuits seek unspecified damages.
Laura Hamilton, whose midwife license was first issued in Washington in 1983 and was most recently renewed in May 2016, was disciplined by state medical license regulators for a 1997 childbirth that left a mother with cervical lacerations and significant bleeding, according to documents on the Washington Department of Health website. Hamilton was fined and required to take steps to improve her practice.
Hamilton’s lawyer, Donna Moniz, issued a statement, Tuesday, responding to the lawsuits.
“Unfortunately mothers do not always have good outcomes in childbirth, despite good care. Laura Hamilton gave good care to these mothers and will defend that care in court. We have no further comment at this time,” Moniz wrote.