Federal Appellate Court Rejects Plaintiff’s “Wrongful Birth” Lawsuit

Earlier this month, the federal appellate court overseeing Connecticut and several other eastern states issued a written opinion in a medical malpractice case regarding a plaintiff’s ability to bring a wrongful birth lawsuit. The case presents interesting issues for victims of Connecticut medical malpractice because, like the state where the case arose, Connecticut does allow for several types of wrongful birth claims. However, the case illustrates that there is a limit to the class of cases covered by wrongful birth statutes.

Ultrasound of BabyConnecticut Wrongful Birth Claims

Wrongful birth is a term used to describe a specific type of medical malpractice claim. Specifically, the term refers to a situation in which, absent the medical provider’s negligence, the plaintiff would not have gotten pregnant.

In Connecticut, there are three types of permissible wrongful birth claims:

  • Failure to properly perform a sterilization procedure;
  • Failure to inform soon-to-be parents of an unborn child’s abnormality or birth defect; and
  • Failed abortion procedures.

In Connecticut, a plaintiff may be entitled to both economic and non-economic damages, meaning that a plaintiff may recover for emotional damages that were related to the wrongful birth.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff had her doctor implant a birth-control device in her arm that was supposed to prevent the plaintiff from getting pregnant for three years. However, shortly after the procedure, the plaintiff got pregnant at the age of 21. Nine months later, the plaintiff gave birth to a baby boy.

The plaintiff sued the manufacturer of the device, as well as the U.S. government, which operated the medical center where the plaintiff had the procedure. However, the claim arose in Maine, which does not have a statute allowing for wrongful birth claims.

The plaintiff acknowledged that there was a state law that specifically prohibited her claim, but she argued that she should be allowed to pursue it nonetheless because it was a constitutional violation to preclude her from doing so. Specifically, the plaintiff argued that denying her the right to pursue this type of claim violated her rights under the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses. Importantly, Maine does allow for wrongful birth claims involving failed sterilization and the birth of an unhealthy baby. However, unlike in Connecticut, damages are limited to economic damages in these cases.

The court found in favor of the defendants, holding that the state had a rational basis for not including wrongful birth claims involving the birth of a healthy child among the allowable wrongful birth claims that can be brought by plaintiffs. The court found that limiting liability for wrongful birth claims amid concerns of escalating medical malpractice insurance rates was a permissible goal, and the statute at least minimally advanced those goals.

Have You Been a Victim of Medical Malpractice?

If you or a loved one has recently been a victim of medical malpractice, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Connecticut medical malpractice lawsuit. At Brickley Law, we represent victims in a wide range of cases, including Connecticut medical malpractice cases and product liability cases. We have extensive experience in other types of Connecticut personal injury cases as well. To learn more, call 203-966-6600 to schedule a free consultation today.

See Additional Blog Posts:

Recovering Damages in Connecticut Personal Injury Claims, Connecticut Injury Lawyer Blog, May 16, 2018.

Establishing Liability Following a Connecticut Drunk Driving Accident, Connecticut Injury Lawyer Blog, April 25, 2018.

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