A Michigan woman is suing her doctor for “wrongful conception” because she got pregnant after her doctor allegedly told her that she had “no chance” of getting pregnant and no longer needed to use birth control. According to the Michigan woman, she had gone to her physician in 2008 to have her “tubes tied,” a female sterilization procedure technically called a tubal ligation. The woman, Lori Cichewicz, alleges it was at that appointment that her doctor advised her that her Fallopian tubes were already “blocked” and that she had “no chance” of getting pregnant in the future.
Ultimately, according to the Plaintiff in the wrongful conception lawsuit, she was told she didn’t need to undergo the tubal ligation, nor did she need to continue to use contraception or birth control in the future.
As Fox 2 Detroit reports, the Michigan woman’s story didn’t end there. Three years later, she became pregnant, despite her doctor’s assurances that future pregnancies were impossible. On top of that, at nearly age 50, Cichewicz found out that she was carrying a fetus with Down syndrome.
As a result of the unexpected, unplanned pregnancy (a pregnancy she alleges her doctor told her was impossible), the Michigan woman is suing for wrongful conception.
Check out her story.
Per the legal definition, a wrongful conception takes place as a result of medical malpractice that “arises from the negligent performance of a sterilization procedure.”
While the Michigan woman’s alleged wrongful conception resulted from her doctor’s refusal to perform her requested sterilization and due to a misdiagnosis of sterility, legal expert Charlie Langton says that it still qualifies under the legal definition of wrongful conception.
“This is really very close to a medical malpractice case. That’s really essentially what it is.”
According to the wrongful conception case filed by the Michigan woman, she is not suing for the costs of raising a special needs child. Rather, Cichewicz, now 50-years-old and mother to a 5-year-old daughter with Down syndrome, is suing her allegedly negligent doctor for emotional distress that she says was caused by the unexpected pregnancy.
“I’m older, I don’t know, will I see her graduate college? Will I see her go to college? Will I see her get married? Will I see her graduate high school? All this is going through my mind.”
The Michigan woman is not suing for “wrongful birth,” although some who have seen her story on social media have been critical of her decision to sue for wrongful conception, seemingly because they don’t know the difference between the two terms. In a wrongful birth case, the plaintiff is alleging that their doctor or other health care professional breached a duty following conception that results in the birth of an “abnormal” child.
In her wrongful conception case, the Michigan woman is alleging that her doctor’s malpractice occurred well before she conceived and is actually the proximate cause of her conceiving in her 40s.
According to legal analyst Langston, the Michigan woman has already been told by the court she can’t sue for the money it’s going to cost to raise a child with Down syndrome, even though that child was allegedly the result of wrongful conception. Rather, the only damages she’s seeking are related to the stress of being pregnant when she didn’t want to be pregnant and had been told she couldn’t get pregnant by a trusted medical professional.
“The stress associated with thinking about of having to be pregnant or being pregnant when she didn’t want to be pregnant are the only damages. It’s not the fact she is going to get money for having to raise a Down syndrome child, the court already said no.”
The Michigan woman’s wrongful conception case is expected to be heard by a jury later in 2016.
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