Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Parents bring wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of stillborn baby

A couple brought a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of their deceased infant boy. Interestingly the case has not made it very far yet on its merits because the courts were deciding whether a wrongful death lawsuit was even available in the case of this baby boy who was not born alive.

The argument was that there could not be a wrongful death claim because a fetus is not yet a child who can be fatally injured. But the parents say that is exactly their point. They blame the health care facility and the doctors in charge of their unborn baby's care for his death en utero. They argue that if it were not for the negligent medical care they received, their baby would in fact have been born alive.

The family's experience with the health care facility involved several errors that ultimately led to the baby's death by strangulation. Apparently the baby's cord was wrapped tightly around his neck and he suffocated to death. However, the doctors were on notice that this woman was experiencing a high-risk pregnancy.

The doctors also had all the data pointing to the fact that she was in active labor when they sent her home. Three long days later, the baby was born stillborn. The parents believe that if they had received prompt medical attention, and if the health care facility paid attention to the warning signs, then this baby boy would be alive today.

Whenever a child is lost because of someone else's negligence, it can be devastating to the parents. This is true whether the child has been born alive or was stillborn.

In this story, the case will now proceed as the court has finally decided that the wrongful death of a fetus is still a wrongful death. Although this case did not take place in Pennsylvania it is pertinent for all Pennsylvania residents who are pregnant and seeking health care for their unborn child.

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune, "Utah Supreme Court Oks wrongful death suits over fetuses," Melinda Rogers, Dec. 20, 2011

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