Can Consumers Sue When There is an Unwanted or Unintended Pregnancy?

For many of us, taking pills and medicines is a routine of everyday life. Whether to cure disease, avoid disease, or improve our lifestyle, we depend on the safety of medicines every day. While there is never a guarantee of effectiveness, we do expect medicines to work the way they are supposed to and do what they say they will.

When they do not, we are probably all aware that a lawsuit can be filed from the barrage of attorney class action ads that run on television, informing consumers of the negative effects of medicines that have harmed people.

One kind of pharmaceutical that we often do not consider in this category is birth control. Surely, if birth control medicine harms us, there can be a lawsuit. But what happens when birth control simply does not work or perform as advertised? A recent lawsuit is exploring this interesting legal issue.

Contraception Manufacturer Sued

A class action lawsuit has been filed against a company that manufactures birth control pills. The suit alleges that the company manufactured a batch of pills that worked, but were switched in the package. The result is the consumer ingesting the “inert” pills at the wrong time of month than they should have for the contraceptive be effective, and subsequently becoming pregnant when they did not intend to.

There is no doubt that this is negligent of the pills’ manufacturer. But what are the damages? Is having an unexpected child a “damage”?

The Concept of Wrongful Birth

Actually, as off-putting as it may sound, the idea of “wrongful birth” (that is the legal term, although it is sometimes called “wrongful conception”) is not new. Many doctors who fail to perform effective vasectomies have been sued under this theory. In vasectomy cases, it is hard to blame the patient—the procedure is supposed to be effective once performed.

When contraceptive pills do not work, manufacturers can always say that the patient is not taking the pills, or taking them incorrectly. Despite the error, the company in this suit will likely allege that contraception is not foolproof anyway, and argue that it is impossible to argue that the pregnancies were caused by the mislabeled pill packages.

The plaintiffs also will have to prove that they incurred damages. It is likely that they will allege as a damage the financial expense that they will incur raising a child that they did not want. But as you may imagine, courts have balanced the unintended financial expense, with the emotional benefits of having a child. In other words, courts are hesitant to call a child a “damage”.

Additionally, many states have outlawed such suits, fearing that by legally recognizing any birth as “wrong,” courts would tacitly be favoring abortions. Thus, while courts generally try to avoid public policy and public opinion, very divisive issues come up when dealing with errors that result in unwanted pregnancies.

If you have been taking a medicine that you feel has caused you adverse effects, or you have been injured by any product that you think was defective, contact the product liability attorneys of Brassel, Alexander & Rice, LLC today for a free consultation to discuss your rights.