Some newborns suffer from brachial plexus injury, a type of harm to a child’s shoulder, arm, or hand that in a minority of cases results in permanent disability. A large volume of birth‐injury litigation goes on as a result, in part because courts have tended to accept the idea that the only medically recognized cause of those conditions in newborns is excessive or traumatic use of physical force by clinicians (“traction”).
In 2008, however, the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology published a case report of a delivery in which an infant was found to be suffering such injury although the physician by her own account had not applied any excessive traction during the birth. If natural forces of labor could cause the dislocation resulting in the condition, many lawsuits could rest on shakier ground. Since then, defense lawyers have cited the report, written by Henry Lerner of Harvard Medical School and Eva Salamon of the Bond Clinic in Florida, in litigation.