The parents of a newborn boy who was deprived of oxygen for 15 minutes after a botched water birth have been awarded $13 million.

Amy Benton and Matthew Marino’s newborn baby boy was deprived of oxygen for 15 minutes after a botched water birth attempt. They have settled their lawsuit against Legacy Emanuel Medical Center for $13 million.

The settlement is the largest in at least a decade for a hospital birth malpractice case, according to court papers filed by Rich Rogers, the Portland attorney who represented the family, reports Oregon Live.

Now 4, Luca Marino can’t walk or talk, but he’s able to scoot around in a cart with wheels.

The boy has been diagnosed with birth-induced cerebral palsy, according to the family’s lawsuit.

“He makes cooing sounds,” the lawyer said. “He smiles brightly. He loves attention. If you walk into the room and you say ‘Hey, Luca!’ He smiles.”

The boy’s parents had gone to the hospital in December 2011, planning to give birth underwater, according to the lawsuit.

“They told (her) she was an ideal candidate for water birth,” Rogers said in an interview. “And they actually told her that it’s just as safe and even more safe.”

But Ms Benton wasn’t a good candidate because her pregnancy wasn’t considered low risk and Luca’s fetal heart rate was abnormal after Benton was admitted to Legacy Emanuel, Rogers said.

Because Ms Benton was in a tub of water, midwives didn’t continuously monitor the baby’s fetal heart rate, he said. If they had, they would have realised sooner that there was a problem with his heart rate and the birth needed to happen immediately, he said.

Ms Benton eventually was taken out of the tub and Luca was delivered vaginally, but the damage was done: Luca’s brain had long been deprived of oxygen and blood, Rogers said. The lawsuit faults Legacy for failing to perform an immediate C-section.

“The baby they pulled out appeared for all intents and purposes, dead,” Rogers said.

The lawsuit claims that Luca’s parents were told that midwives would consult obstetricians during the water birth, but that didn’t happen.

The lawyer was paid $4.33 million in attorneys fees for his work, according to court papers. After that and experts, court costs and medical bills were paid, Luca received about $6.8 million of the original $13 million settlement.

BabyCenter share a great article on the pros and cons of water birth if you are considering one yourself.

See our piece on Amazing water birth video and images HERE.

Share your comments below.

Image via shutterstock

  • Very sad and unavoidable had they monitored them. I did not realise lawyers fees could be $4,000,000. Thats shocking too!


  • I thought it wasn’t the norm to continuously monitor fetal heart rate in labour. It reads like the midwives didn’t know there was a problem with his heart rate until they were out of the water. So couldn’t this happen to anyone? In or out of water? It doesn’t look like anyone deliberately put the baby in harms way. I know it says she was actually high risk but it doesn’t say why. It was her choice to have a water birth and thus not be monitored while in the water.


  • Title misleading and also shows how lawyers can gouge people for money. Quiet sure there was not that much work that involved that costs.


  • Tragic story to read regardless of the payment.


  • When I read the headline, my first thought was they should have known there are risks involved with a water birth. Then I read the article and it is more about medical neglect and less to do with the actual water birth. This woman shouldn’t have even been having a water birth and then they failed to monitor her through out it. So sad :( They should have got more money for the ongoing care of this beautiful child, who will need it for life. The lawyers disgusted me, they could have reduced their fees knowing the money would be needed by the family


  • That is so very sad


  • The headline is misleading and deceptive. This case is not about a water birth. The baby wasn’t born in the water. It is about inadequate monitoring of the baby’s heart rate. Shame that some people will scroll past the article headline and overlook water immersion in labour or water birth which is very safe when appropriate management is in place because of this.


  • Terrible really. This shouldn’t have happened, but $13 mil, of which 4 went to the lawyer was a joke really.


  • Poor child.. not being able to walk or talk!! :-(
    But it’s terrible that the family received just 6.8 millions. Isn’t it weird that the lawyer got more than 4 million dollars????

    • The 6.8 millon is what was left over after past and current medical accounts had been paid. I don’t think that will last too long either.


  • I like to think only in America but this could happen anywhere. Good luck to the family, they’ll need the money to help raise their now disabled child. Sad their choices contributed to this outcome


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