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Wrongful Birth

February 13, 2020  ·  By HM&M


Hurley McKenna & Mertz, P.C. is the leading law firm in Chicago in the area of wrongful birth. We not only have extensive experience representing families of all sorts injured by medical malpractice related to genetic testing and counseling, we have also helped change the law–successfully arguing to the Illinois Supreme Court that it recognize for the first time the right of parents to recover for the emotional distress caused by this devastating form of malpractice. To see a truly uplifting story of one family our Chicago wrongful birth lawyers have helped, see Amy’s Story.

As prenatal genetic testing becomes more common, a growing number of parents are receiving negligent genetic counseling from physicians, hospitals and fertility clinics. With the rising use of laboratory and office tests for genetic, chromosomal and inherited disorders, including prenatal ultrasounds, amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling (CVS), the risks and consequences of negligent genetic and prenatal testing are higher than ever. When negligent genetic counseling or genetic testing results in the birth of a child with severe mental and physical disabilities, parents have viable claims against the doctors, hospitals, clinics and laboratories that were negligent. These parents can pursue compensation through a cause of action called “wrongful birth.”

In a wrongful birth claim, parents allege that they would have avoided contraception or terminated a pregnancy but for the defendants’ negligence in prenatal testing, genetic prognosticating, or counseling on the likelihood of giving birth to a disabled child. The negligence victim in a wrongful birth claim is not the child – the child cannot be considered a victim for achieving life. The direct victims are the parents.

At Hurley McKenna & Mertz, P.C. we are particularly proud of the work we did leading up to the decision in Clark v. Children’s Memorial Hospital. In that case Chris Hurley argued before the Illinois Supreme Court that the law should recognize for the first time an important avenue of recovery for wrongful birth plaintiffs–parents of a disabled child born as a result of negligent genetic testing or genetic counseling can now recover damages for both the costs of caring for their child’s disabilities, as well as for their own emotional distress. Go to our In the Courtroom page to see a video of Chris’s argument before the Illinois Supreme Court.

As a result of our groundbreaking work to change the law applicable to wrongful birth claims, HM&M has been retained by many parents who have received negligent genetic testing and counseling, and who have as a result given birth to children with severe disabilities and disorders including:

  • Angelman Syndrome
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Down Syndrome (trisomy 21)
  • Unbalanced Chromosome Translocation
  • Tay-Sachs
  • Spina Bifida
  • Edwards Syndrome (trisomy 18)
  • Myotubular Myopathy
  • Patau Syndrome (trisomy 13)
  • Sickle Cell Anemia
  • Thalassemia Major

The Chicago wrongful birth lawyers at HM&M has successfully obtained compensation for families in wrongful birth cases against:

  • Geneticists
  • Obstetricians
  • Reproductive Endocrinologists
  • Genetic Counselors
  • Hospitals
  • Laboratories (including Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp)
  • Fertility Centers

For a free consultation, contact Hurley McKenna & Mertz, P.C. today at 312-553-4900 or fill out our online form to have a lawyer contact you.

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