Parents sue hospital, pediatrician for faulty genetic counseling

October 26, 2011
By Brassel, Alexander & Rice, LLC on October 26, 2011 2:53 PM |

gavel2.jpgA Portland, Oregon couple, filed a lawsuit seeking $23 million in damages over the practitioners' late diagnosis of their second son's Duchenne muscular dystrophy. As a result of the late diagnosis, the parents allege they were denied the opportunity to exercise "reproductive choices," prior to their third son being born with the same condition.

Our Annapolis and Baltimore Medical Malpractice Attorneys have years of experience representing Plaintiffs whose children have been affected by catastrophic birth injuries. These injuries have a lasting emotional and financial impact on parents, as they must often pay for a lifetime of medical care and see their children subjected to pain and suffering.

The Oregon lawsuit alleges that due to the negligence of the defendants, the parents will watch both boys lose the ability to walk by their early teens and will ultimately die from the progressive condition.

The first son was born in 2003. The lawsuit alleges that the first son immediately showed developmental abnormalities after birth. Although the parents sought medical help, the son was not diagnosed with the condition until October 2010, which was two years after their third son was born. Their third son is also affected by the disease.

The suit alleges that the defendants failed to recognize the second son's abnormalities and failed to diagnose him, and moreover failed to advise them of the likelihood of a subsequent child having the same condition.

Duchenne's muscular dystrophy is a condition that affects one in 3,000 boys, which includes delays in walking, trouble going up stairs, frequent falls and large calf muscles. There is no known cure.

Cases like this are often difficult and sensitive, because such cases could send a negative message to children when they learn that their parents may wish that they were not born. Additionally, these cases might suggest that a child that is handicapped is less desirable than a non-handicapped child. These critiques overlook the emotional and painful impact these issues have on families.

Lawsuits involving birth injuries, depending on the jurisdiction, often include a cause of action for "Wrongful Birth" and/or "Wrongful Life." Wrongful birth counts are brought by the parents for the damages resulting from the birth of a handicapped child. Wrongful life cases are claims brought by the child, who essentially alleges they would have preferred not to be born than born into a life of suffering. It seeks to recover for emotional pain and suffering of the child, as well as recompense for the medical and educational expenses incurred. Kassama v. Magat, 136 Md. App. 637, 665 (2001).

Although some states recognize claims for "Wrongful Life," Maryland, along with most other states, do not recognize a "Wrongful Life" claim. Maryland does, however, recognize a claim for "Wrongful Birth."

If you or a family member has been impacted by a birth injury due to the negligence of others, call the Brassel, Alexander & Rice for a free consultation.