SILVERTON, Ore. -- Three families are suing Silverton Hospital for nearly $100 million combined.
Each family has a child who was born with permanent brain damage and cerebral palsy. They blame it on malpractice in the delivery room.
Elizabeth Ramseyer, of Stayton, was having her first child in 2007. When 10-pound baby Maverick wouldn't budge, Elizabeth said nurses gave her drugs to move things along. Hours later, when a C-section finally was ordered, Maverick was born lifeless.
"He was white as paper," recalled father Derrick Ramseyer. "There was nothing there. His arms and legs fell as they spun him around so they could continue to help him."
Among the many accusations in their lawsuit against the hospital, the Ramseyers claim the right doctors and equipment took too long to resuscitate their son.
Maverick was brought back, but had brain damage, and at two-years-old was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Now six, Maverick's right leg and arm muscles aren't developed, he has rage tantrums and speech issues.
They said he'll spend the rest of his life dealing with leg braces, electro-therapy walkers and surgeries. And the Ramseyers believe it all could have been prevented if different decisions had been made in the delivery room.
They're suing for $40 million. "I want to be able to be told by a doctor 'Your son needs something,'" Elizabeth said. "I want to be able to say, 'Okay, I can take care of that.'"
Two other Marion County families with nearly the same birth story, are also suing. The hospital and doctors won't comment until the cases are over. But in court documents, they have denied all allegations. The doctor who performed Elizabeth's C-section claims he was only responsible for the mother, and not the baby.
"Once you make a diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy, the next question is always 'Why?" said Dr. Peter Blasco, the director of Neuro-Developmental Programs at Oregon Health and Science University. He's a regional expert in Cerebral Palsy, but not connected to the Silverton cases.
Blasco said babies with C-P who were full-term with a healthy pregnancy, a rare number of them - only 8 percent - got their brain damage from a catastrophe in the delivery room. And it can be hard to prove.
"Most of the time it's a lot more difficult and a lot of the time it's really not possible to be sure," Blasco said.
When asked the likelihood when three C-P births in two years at the same hospital had the problem, and two of them had the same doctor. He replied, "A red flag for sure, but does it really mean anything? Boy, you have to look at it pretty closely."
Despite all this trauma, the Ramseyers want other parents to learn from their experience when they arrive at the delivery room. They advise parents to bring a signed birth plan with them, choose a hospital with a neonatal intensive care unit and ask plenty of questions.
"It can go wrong, and when it does, it can be horrible," Derrick Ramseyer said through tears.
He added that, instead of partners just offering the mother ice chips and changing DVD's in the hospital room, they should get educated on what medical equipment is available in case of emergencies.
"He (Maverick) is still a huge miracle because he pulled through and he made it," Elizabeth said. "And that's what moves you day to day. That's what gets you through it because he is here."
In 2009, Consumer Reports magazine named Silverton Hospital as one of the top in Oregon, based on patient surveys.
However, last year it was one of the most federally penalized hospitals in the state by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid because of death rates and patient satisfaction.
As for the delivery room lawsuits, all three cases are currently headed for trial.