Debra Schnell filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against Belleville Memorial Hospital and obstetrician John Hucker, M.D. in St. Clair County Circuit Court Dec. 2, claiming her daughter developed cerebral palsy due to negligent care during birth.

Schnell, represented by Joseph Bartholomew of Belleville, is seeking damages in excess of $300,000 on behalf of her daughter, Jocelyn.

"Memorial Hospital, by and through its agent an employee, John Hucker, M.D., failed to exercise reasonable care customarily provided in the health care industry by negligently and carelessly failing to ensure a timely delivery of the baby on or about March 25, 2000," the complaint states.

Schnell claims Jocelyn suffers multiple permanent and disabling injuries, which require large sums of money to treat.

She also claims that her daughter sustained permanent damage because she will not be adequately educated or be able to obtain gainful employment.

Bartholomew submitted an unsigned certificate of merit that was dated on Dec. 21, 2001 that states, "I have reviewed the pertinent medical records of Debra Schnell. In my opinion there is a reasonable and meritorious cause for filing a medical malpractice case."

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), cerebral palsy is an umbrella-like term used to describe a group of chronic disorders impairing control of movement that appear in the first few years of life and generally do not worsen over time.

"The disorders are caused by faulty development of or damage to motor areas in the brain that disrupts the brain's ability to control movement and posture," according to the NIH.

Symptoms differ from person-to-person and may change over time. Some people with cerebral palsy are also affected by other medical disorders, including seizures or mental impairment, but cerebral palsy does not always cause profound handicap.

Early signs of cerebral palsy usually appear before three years of age. Infants with cerebral palsy are frequently slow to reach developmental milestones such as learning to roll over, sit, crawl, smile or walk.

"At this time, cerebral palsy cannot be cured, but due to medical research, many patients can enjoy near-normal lives if their neurological problems are properly managed," according to the NIH.

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