US judge awards $10 million settlement to family in ‘wrongful pregnancy’ case
The family of a severely disabled child who was born after a nurse administered a flu shot instead of a birth-control injection has been awarded $10 million (£7.6 million ) by a federal judge as settlement. The mother, Yeseni Pacheco, had no intentions to conceive and would not have become pregnant in 2011 if the nurse at the Neighbourcare Health Clinic in Seattle had given her the appropriate shot.
Pacheco had gone to the clinic for a quarterly injection of Depo–Provera, which is a hormone used for birth control. A nurse at the clinic who had been giving walk-in flu shots all day failed to check Pacheco’s chart and gave her a flu vaccine instead.
She only realised the clinical slip-up on the day she called to set her next appointment, which was more than two months later. By then, she was already pregnant.
The family’s lawyers pinned down the case in court as a “wrongful pregnancy” and “wrongful life.” It was a hard-fought case which heavily criticised the government when they refused to accept accountability.
The federal government is deemed responsible for the damages because the particular clinic involved is federally funded serving low-income and uninsured patients, the New York Post wrote.
A spokesperson for the US Attorney’s Office in Seattle which defended the lawsuit, said that the delays were a necessity to ensure that the extent of the child’s disabilities are accurately diagnosed by medical experts.
Court documents stated the child suffers from a birth defect known as bilateral perisylvian polymicrogyria (PMG), which resulted in cognitive delays, slowed speech and language skills, epilepsy, vision problems and other complications. According to the family’s attorneys, the child will live a normal life span, but will require some level of care and assistance for her entire life.
US District Judge Robert Lasnik awarded the child $7.5 million for her medical, educational and other expenses, on top of $2.5 million in damages for her parents. Justice Department lawyers are appealing for some of the settlement to be placed in “reversionary trust” that would require the family to return the amount should the child not have any need for it.