Liddington v. Burns

Liddington is a wrongful birth action. In a "wrongful birth" action, a parent claims the physician's negligence caused the birth of an unhealthy, abnormal child. [1] I agree that the issue here was the doctor’s negligence in only performing one ultrasound test and the advice he gave to Liddington, which was based on that one test, where he urged she should continue with the pregnancy. What is unclear here is what effects (if any) the two prior, unsuccessful abortion attempts had on the fetus. Yet, the question in this case is not the birth itself, for the birth of the child is a byproduct of the decisions made by Liddington to carry full term, based on information negligently provided to her by the doctor.

Because the basis of this wrongful birth action is negligence, in this case, specifically negligence on the part of the doctor, I agree that recognizing a wrongful birth as a tort with a remedy in damages is appropriate. Because of the doctor’s negligence, Liddington was led to believe that the fetus was normal and healthy. I believe Liddington’s claim should prevail since the report of the fetus being normal, coupled with the doctor’s urging Liddington to keep the baby had the effect of giving the impression that giving birth to a deformed child was not foreseeable when in fact it was.  In addition, if the standard of care in a case such as Liddington’s was to have follow up ultra sound tests performed, it did not happen here. [2]

[1] Liddington v. Burns, 916 F. Supp. 1130 (W.D. Okla. 1995).

[2] Id.

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