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Illinois Supreme Court Changes Law, Allows Parents to Recover for Emotional Distress

November 19, 2011  ·  By HM&M



The Illinois Supreme Court reversed the 1st District Appellate Court and ruled that Jeff and Amy Clark could seek damages for emotional distress caused by the wrongful birth of their son. The Clarks had relied on an erroneous genetic diagnosis before having their son, born with Angelman’s Syndrome.

The Court did not allow the Clarks to recover the cost of caring for their disabled child after he reaches the age of majority, a position urged by Justice Freeman in a dissent.

The Clark’s lawyer, Christopher T. Hurley, said he was disappointed that the other justices didn’t adopt Freeman’s stance on the recovery issue, but was more than pleased with the court’s ruling over emotional distress claims in wrongful birth suits.

“It’s a huge step forward for Illinois law,” said Hurley, a partner at Hurley McKenna & Mertz P.C. in Chicago. “The most important thing the court did was make it clear that parents who have had the tort committed against them of wrongful birth are entitled to recover damages for emotional distress associated with that.”

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