A Maryland couple filed a medical malpractice case in Maryland against an obstetrician-gynecologist who had performed an elective bilateral tubal ligation on the wife after the plaintiffs expressed to the defendant that they could not afford to have a fourth child. Months after the defendant physician performed the laparoscopic sterilization procedure using cauterization, the wife returned to the defendant because she had missed her period. The defendant OB-GYN performed a pregnancy test and then informed the plaintiffs three days later that the wife was five to eight weeks pregnant with their fourth child. The plaintiffs chose to return to the OB-GYN who had assisted them with their first two pregnancies, for the birth of their fourth child.
After the plaintiffs’ fourth child was born, a second bilateral tubal ligation was performed by another physician and that physician found evidence that the plaintiff’s right fallopian tube had not been cauterized (a radiological test performed before the second procedure found that the injected dye was free-flowing in the plaintiff’s right fallopian tube).
The defendant physician contended that the bilateral tubal ligation procedure is (only) 99.6% effective, that the plaintiff’s fallopian tube may have healed back together, and that a subsequent pregnancy is a known risk of the procedure. The plaintiffs’ expert testified that if a proper cauterization is performed, the fallopian tube should not grow back, especially in the five to eight weeks between the first procedure and when the plaintiff found out she was pregnant.
The Maryland medical malpractice jury trial was held earlier this month over a three-day period after which the jury deliberated for only a half day before finding in favor of the plaintiffs in the amount of $397,000 ($240,000 in economic damages for the parents’ cost of raising the fourth child and $157,000 in economic damages for the additional costs of services that the special needs child will require due to a speech and language disability for which he will require speech therapy, occupational therapy, and individual therapy for behavioral issues). The Maryland medical malpractice jury did not award the parents any amount for their noneconomic damages (the jury was instructed to reduce any noneconomic damages for the joy, comfort, and society that the parents receive from their child).
The defendant’s attorneys have vowed to file post-trial motions or appeal the Maryland medical malpractice jury’s verdict because the defendant feels that he was not medically negligent and that he should not be held responsible for the plaintiff’s pregnancy and resulting expenses.
At first blush, it may appear unseemly to seek compensation from a physician whose alleged negligence led to an unwanted pregnancy, for the costs of raising a child born after an unplanned pregnancy. However, responsible loving parents are well aware of the costs of properly raising a child and that children need sufficient and appropriate time and attention from nurturing parents in order to provide them with the best opportunity for a fruitful and enjoyable life. While the Maryland medical malpractice plaintiffs no doubt love their fourth child as much as they love their other children, they should not be burdened with the additional economic costs of raising an unplanned child that would have been avoided had the defendant obstetrician properly performed the sterilization procedure, as alleged in the plaintiffs’ Maryland medical malpractice lawsuit.
If you have been injured due to medical negligence in Maryland or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a medical malpractice lawyer in Maryland or in your state who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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