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.