Appeals court upholds $50 million wrongful birth verdict against LabCorp, medical center



An appeals court in Washington state has upheld a $50 million jury award in a wrongful birth/wrongful life suit filed by a couple who alleged LabCorp and Valley Medical Center were negligent when they reported the chorionic villus sampling (CVS) of their son, who was born with a severe genetic abnormality, was chromosomally normal.


Rhea and Brock Wuth were married in 2000 and had a healthy boy in 2002.  In 2003, Brock’s cousin, who had “terrible seizures, anti-social behavior, and obesity that confined her to a wheelchair”, underwent genetic testing that determined she had an unbalanced translocation of chromosomes 2 and 9. After he learned of his cousin’s results, Brock had himself tested and learned he, although asymptomatic, had balanced chromosomal translocations.

Rhea and Brock decided they wanted more children but did not want to bring a child with severe genetic disabilities into the world, and sought the help of a genetic counselor after they learned of Brock’s test results.  Over the course of the next 5 years, Rhea miscarried six times.  She became pregnant again around November 2007, and informed Rhea’s obstetrician about Brock and his cousin’s genetic abnormalities.  They also informed the obstetrician of their decision to not carry a child with an unbalanced translocation to term.

After this discussion, the obstetrician ordered genetic counseling in conjunction with CVS, but Valley scheduled Rhea’s CVS for a day on which no genetic counselor was scheduled to work.  Apparently the couple looked into rescheduling the CVS at Valley, or alternately having it performed at Swedish Hospital, so they could speak with a genetic counselor.

Unfortunately, there were staffing and scheduling issues at both institutions that made it unlikely Rhea could have the CVS performed within the next week.  This is important because she was 12 weeks and one day into her pregnancy at the time, and CVS must be performed before the end of the thirteenth week of pregnancy.

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Quest Diagnostics agrees to pay $1.8 million to settle duplicate testing allegations

Quest Diagnostics yesterday agreed to pay $1.8 million to settle a qui tam (whistleblower) lawsuit that was filed in July 2012 by a former Quest phlebotomist who alleged both Quest and LabCorp performed, and billed Medicare for, duplicate laboratory testing. I first wrote about this suit in October 2014, right after the judge unsealed it. Briefly, Ms. Elisa Martinez used to work as a phlebotomist at Quest's patient service center (PSC) in Red Bluff California, and during her time at the … [Continue reading]

BioHealth Medical Laboratory and PB Laboratories file $10 million lawsuit against Cigna

BioHealth Medical Laboratory and PB Laboratories, two clinical laboratories based in Florida, have filed a lawsuit in US District Court in Miami that alleges Cigna has refused to pay them more than $10 million for laboratory testing. Factual Allegations Both laboratories claim they have applied several times to join Cigna's network, but, for reasons not explained to them, have been denied. Nonetheless, the labs routinely receive specimens from Cigna members.  These members, at the time of … [Continue reading]

Pathology Blawg News Roundup for August 21, 2015

Hunter Laboratories and Quest Diagnostics settle anti-trust lawsuit On August 12, 2015, just five days before trial was scheduled to begin, the anti-trust lawsuit against Quest Diagnostics and three health insurance companies was settled for an undisclosed amount. The case was filed in November 2012 by Rheumatology Diagnostics Laboratory, Pacific Breast Pathology Medical Corporation, Hunter Laboratories and Surgical Pathology Associates, and alleged Quest offered below-cost lab … [Continue reading]

Labor law violation suit against LabCorp remains largely intact after motion to dismiss

A US District judge in California has largely found in favor of the plaintiff in a motion filed by LabCorp to dismiss in its entirety a putative class action lawsuit that alleges the lab giant violated multiple California labor laws.  In addition, LabCorp also filed a motion to strike, which the judge also denied. This is the second time in about a month I have written about this case.  The first article discussed LabCorp's success in keeping the case in federal court. Motion to … [Continue reading]

Oxford Immunotec sues Qiagen, Quest Diagnostics, LabCorp for patent infringement

Oxford Immunotec

United Kingdom-based Oxford Immnotec has filed a lawsuit in US District court in Massachusetts that alleges Qiagen, Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp are infringing on its patented technology with the QuantiFERON-TB Gold (QFT-Gold) and QuantiFERON-TB Gold Plus (QFT-Plus) tests. Five of the patents at issue describe a "method of diagnosing in a host infection by or exposure to a mycobacterium which expresses ESAT-6" and are as follows: #7,632,646, issued December 15, 2009 #7,901,898, … [Continue reading]

DOJ intervenes against Tonya Mallory, BlueWave HealthCare Consultants and Berkeley HeartLab

On August 7, 2015, the Department of Justice has officially intervened in three separate qui tam (whistleblower) lawsuits against founder and former CEO of Health Diagnostic Laboratory (HDL) Tonya Mallory, BlueWave Healthcare Consultants and its founders/owners Floyd Calhoun Dent and Robert Bradford Johnson, and Berkeley HeartLab (BHL).  The Complaint in Intervention was filed almost four months to the day after the government announced it would intervene against the defendants. I have … [Continue reading]

Caris Life Sciences screwed over its employees to save on taxes; must pay them $16.3 million

A Delaware judge has ordered Caris Life Sciences to pay its employees $16.3 million after finding Caris breached its Stock Incentive Plan in an attempt to avoid paying taxes on two business units it spun off prior to selling a portion of its business to Miraca Life Sciences. Background Caris used to consist of three business units:  Caris Diagnostics, TargetNow, and Carisome.  Caris' founder, David Halbert, owned 70.4%, while private equity firm JH Whitney Fund VI owned 26.7%. Caris … [Continue reading]

Pathology Blawg News Roundup for August 7, 2015

Pathologist speaks out about CAP's LCD "reform" effort A practicing pathologist recently reached out to me with his thoughts on the effort by the College of American Pathologists (CAP) to change the local coverage determination (LCD) process. For those unfamiliar, the CAP, in response to the ancillary stain LCD originally issued by Medicare Administrative Contractor (MAC) Palmetto GBA and subsequently taken up by three other MACs, seeks to change the process by which CMS issues LCDs, which … [Continue reading]

Update on Hunter Laboratories vs. Quest Diagnostics anti-trust lawsuit

The trial in an anti-trust lawsuit filed against Quest Diagnostics is set to begin on August 17, 2015.  Out of the four original plaintiffs and eight causes of action brought against the defendants, only two plaintiffs—Hunter Laboratories and Surgical Pathology Associates (SPA)—and two causes of action remain.  There has been a little bit of activity since we last talked about this case, and I just wanted to give a brief update. Background Those interested in reading about the case in … [Continue reading]

Cigna accuses urine drug toxicology laboratories of fraud, kickback scheme

Health insurer Cigna recently filed a lawsuit against Sky Toxicology Lab Management and urine drug toxicology (UDT) laboratories Sky Toxicology, Frontier Toxicology and Hill Country Toxicology that, among other things, accuses them of engaging in fraud and a lucrative patient-referral kickback scheme. All three labs are located in San Antonio Texas.  Sky Tox and Frontier Tox are about a block apart from one another, and Hill Country Tox is about a 10 minute drive away.  According to the … [Continue reading]

Pathology Blawg News Roundup for July 31, 2015

Anthem strikes again with massive laboratory reimbursement reduction A reader who works for a large independent laboratory in the midwest informed me their laboratory has received a letter from Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield that said the insurer had performed a "comprehensive review" of the reimbursement and terms and conditions of its independent laboratory Participating Provider Agreement, and had made the decision to amend the agreement. A prospective fee schedule was attached to the … [Continue reading]

Negligence suit against Creighton dermatopathologist Dr. Deba Sarma will continue in Illinois

A US District Court judge has ruled a negligence lawsuit filed in Illinois against Creighton University and now-retired Creighton dermatopathologist Dr. Deba Sarma will be allowed to continue in Illinois. Factual Allegations Ms. Kayla Johnson had a 1 cm lesion on her left leg excised by Dr. Damian Grivetti on January 31, 2011 at St. Margaret's Health Center in Peru, Illinois. The specimen was sent to the pathology department and examined by pathologist Dr. Eric Santos.  Dr. Santos felt the … [Continue reading]

Dr. Franklin Cockerill now CEO of Analyte Health, defendant in stolen trade secrets lawsuit

Analyte Health Logo

Dr. Franklin Cockerill, the former chairman of the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnesota who was accused of misappropriating Mayo's trade secrets, has recently been named CEO of Analyte Health, one of the defendants in an ongoing trade secret violation lawsuit. Those interested in learning more about the trade secret misappropriation allegations leveled against Dr. Cockerill by the Mayo Clinic can do so here; they certainly make for … [Continue reading]

Pathology Blawg News Roundup for July 24, 2015

Ohio dermatologists will no longer be able to client bill for anatomic pathology services In April 2009, Ohio passed a law that prohibited referring physicians from billing for anatomic pathology services, but unfortunately that law contained an exemption for dermatologists.  Five years later, the board of the Ohio Dermatological Association unanimously agreed dermatologists should no longer be allowed to bill for the work of pathologists. In response to this laudable position, the Ohio … [Continue reading]