Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Handling Personal Injury Claims in the Seattle Area and Throughout Washington Since 1995

My name is Chris Thayer and I am a personal injury attorney practicing in downtown Seattle. I handle personal injury, medical malpractice and wrongful death claims throughout the greater Seattle area, including Issaquah, Mercer Island and Kirkland.

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Personal Injury Caused by “Reproductive Negligence”

Posted Friday, April 27, 2018 by Chris Thayer

Most personal injury claims seem to fit into a certain mold - car accident, slip-and-fall, defective product, and the list goes on. Not all cases fall into such traditional categories.

*Lawsuit Filed by Washington Woman*A 36-year-old woman named Kelli Rowlette who lives in Washington learned some disturbing news about her family history after taking a DNA test. It turned out that a man living in Idaho Falls, and not the dad she grew up with, is her biological father.

This news also disturbed her mother, Sally Ashby, who had no idea that the doctor was Kelli’s biological father. However, Sally did know that Kelli’s dad was not her actual dad. Sally and her then-husband struggled to get pregnant, and they ended up using a sperm donor. Dr. Gerald Mortimer handled their case, and told them he had found an anonymous college student to donate. Sally was surprised to learn that Mortimer actually used his own sperm during the artificial insemination process.

Kelli and her parents recently filed a lawsuit against the retired obstetrician gynecologist, alleging medical negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress, among other claims. While this lawsuit was filed in federal court in Idaho, it is unfortunately easy to imagine a similar case ending up in court here in Washington.

*Is “Reproductive Negligence” a Tort?*According to Above the Law, “reproductive negligence” cases are become all-too common, and some legal experts want courts to recognize it as a tort. (A tort is a wrongful act, like negligence, that leads to civil liability.) Do actions like Mortimer’s actually constitute negligence?

One legal scholar says that it is deliberate and intentional when a doctor uses his own sperm in a donor’s place. He describes two types of tort claims that could arise in this situation:

When a parent is deprived of parenthood because his genetic material was not used.When the child the parents wanted is not what they expected because different genetic material was used.

The scholar also described a reproductive negligence situation in which a couple conceives because of a failed vasectomy.

Whatever the semantics or the legal elements of a “reproductive negligence” claim, the point is that families who are deceived in this way should have legal recourse against the wrongdoer.

*Potential Damages in a “Reproductive Negligence” Case*It is easy to imagine the type of damages that a “reproductive negligence” victim might seek.

First, remember that Washington is a comparative fault state, which means that if you were partially at fault for your injuries, any damages awarded to you will be reduced by your percentage of fault.

Washington also does not place a cap on the amount of damages that you can receive. This includes compensation for economic damages and noneconomic damages. Economic damages are easily quantifiable, like medical expenses, while noneconomic damages are more subjective, like pain and suffering. A “reproductive negligence” victim might have a viable claim for both economic and noneconomic damages.

*Contact Us Today*Contact one of our personal injury attorneys today for a free consultation if you were injured by any kind of medical negligence. Our experienced attorneys will examine the facts of your case and help recover the compensation that you deserve.