On January 8, 2019, an Iowa medical malpractice jury returned its verdict in favor of the wrongful birth plaintiffs in the amount of $14,504,790, which included $285,000 for the mother’s emotional distress from the date of the injury to the present and $1,346,938 for her future emotional distress. The Iowa wrongful birth jury awarded the father $215,000 for his past emotional distress and $1,010,203 for his future emotional distress.
The Iowa medical malpractice jury determined the present value of the child’s future reasonable and necessary extraordinary medical expenses and services, custodial care and attendant services, and equipment and adaptive housing to be $11,647,649.
The Iowa wrongful birth medical malpractice plaintiffs alleged that they were told that the ultrasound of the fetus at 22 weeks showed that the baby was fine but in fact a radiologist who read the ultrasound found head abnormalities and recommended follow-up, which did not occur. The parents alleged that had they been properly and timely advised regarding their baby’s abnormalities, they would have chosen to abort the fetus. After the baby was born, the mother had to quit her job in order to care for her child.
The Iowa wrongful birth jury determined that the defendant hospital and a doctor were responsible for 65% of the verdict and the remaining 35% of the verdict was the responsibility of another physician and a radiology practice.
Iowa Wrongful Birth
In its opinion filed on June 2, 2017 in the same Iowa wrongful birth medical malpractice case, the Iowa Supreme Court recognized for the first time wrongful birth claims in which the parents of a child born with severe disabilities may bring a medical negligence action based on the physicians’ failure to inform them of prenatal test results showing a congenital defect that would have led them to terminate the pregnancy.
The Iowa Supreme Court held: “We conclude that wrongful birth fits within common law tort principles governing medical negligence claims, and no public policy or statute precludes the cause of action … we join the majority of courts to allow parents to sue for the wrongful birth of a severely disabled child. This theory fits within general tort principles for medical negligence actions. We reverse the district court’s summary judgment and remand the case to allow the parents’ wrongful-birth claims to proceed consistent with this opinion.”
The Iowa Supreme Court had held in a previous case that Iowa does not recognize a claim for “wrongful pregnancy” (i.e., a medical negligence action brought by the parents of a healthy, but unplanned, child against a physician who negligently performed a sterilization or abortion) because “a parent cannot be said to have been damaged or injured by the birth and rearing of a normal, healthy child because the invaluable benefits of parenthood outweigh the mere monetary burdens as a matter of law.”
Source Plowman v. Fort Madison Community Hospital, No. 15–0974
If your baby was born with severe disabilities that may have been discovered if appropriate testing was timely done during your pregnancy, you may have the basis for a medical malpractice wrongful birth claim. Obtaining the legal advice from a local medical malpractice attorney may help you decide if you may and should proceed with a medical malpractice wrongful birth case.
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