Llaulin Cruz, 38, now can never go too far from a bathroom and is forced to wear underwear liner around the clock after the botched job from obstetrician Michael Ihemaguba at St. Barnabas Hospital in 2009, the jury in Bronx Supreme Court found.
After a month-long trial, the jury awarded Cruz $40 million for future pain and suffering, and $10 million for past suffering. Her baby, now 6, is doing well, but Cruz says that her life has not been the same since she suffered lacerations during the delivery.
“I try not to be too far from my house,” she told the News. “I have to wear panty liner all the time, because accidents can happen. I don’t have control over it. That’s how it is right now.”
Cruz’s ordeal began when Dr. Ihemaguba delivered her baby girl on Nov. 30, 2009, court papers say.
During the procedure, the doctor urged her to continue to push after the newborn’s head was already delivered, the jury found.
He also performed a controlled cut called an episiotomy – which Cruz’s suit says was unnecessary and caused a massive wound that was never properly stitched up.
Making matters worse, Cruz was still unaware of her condition when she became pregnant with her son a year later.
Already suffering from strange discharges, the Dominican Republic-born mom chose to go to a midwife , Gloria Murray, instead. But Murray, unaware of Cruz’s massive tissue tears, delivered her son vaginally – exacerbating the existing condition, the jury found.
For the next few years, Cruz said she went back and forth from the hospital for over a dozen surgeries trying to correct the tear. She had to leave her job as a physical therapist aide in Castle Hill because of her condition.
These days, Cruz said she still suffers the occasional accident, and feels constant discomfort – which extends to her romantic relations with her husband.
“We don’t have any sexual relationship at all,” she said. “There’s just too much pain.”
Her lawyers, Ed Sanocki and Maria Morano of the firm Sanocki Newman & Turret, called the mom-of-two’s ordeal “horrible.”
On Wednesday the jury found Ihemaguba 90% to blame, and the midwife Murray 10% at fault.
Ihemaguba told the News the jury voted with their emotions, not the facts.
“Someone can just make up a story, cry to the jury, and they will ignore all the records and give her a big award,” he said.
He said he had to make the cut during because he’d determined the umbilical cord was wrapped around the baby’s neck, and the baby needed space.
He said he repaired the incision, and medical records show that Cruz never complained to him or to the nurses about any issues .
“If this woman really had a problem, wouldn’t it be reflected on the records?” he said.
He said he has refused to settle the suit because he did nothing wrong.
“I was never worried about the money. It’s the guilt or innocence,” Ihemaguba said.
He said he’s still licensed to practice medicine but hasn’t in a couple of years because he’s recovering from his own spinal surgery.
St. Barnabas Hospital is also liable for a portion of the verdict, though a hospital spokesman said Ihemaguba was not an employee at the hospital, though he delivered babies there.
Spokesman Steve Clark said the hospital “is hopeful that this amount will be reduced or set aside by appeal.”