(CN) - A woman whose failed sterilization led to the birth of a child with sickle-cell disease may have a case for wrongful pregnancy, an Illinois appeals court ruled.
As carriers of the sickle-cell trait, Cynthia and Kenneth Williams had a 25 percent chance of having a baby with the disease.
After their first son was indeed born with the illness, which can result in anemia, frequent infections, and episodes of pain, the couple discussed birth-control options with Dr. Byron Rosner of Reproductive Health Associates.
Cynthia tried to sterilize herself via tubal ligation in 2005, but problems arose with the anesthesia and she had to undergo the procedure again, along with a mini-laparotomy, in December 2008.
One of Cynthia's fallopian tubes remained intact, however, and she discovered that she was pregnant that June.
After that child, Kennadi, was born in February with sickle-cell disease, the Williams sued Rosner and Reproductive Health for medical negligence and wrongful pregnancy, seeking to recoup the expenses of raising a child with the disease.
In a motion to dismiss, the defendants argued that Illinois law does not allow parents to recover medical costs of a wrongful pregnancy.
The Cook County Circuit Court kept the claims intact and certified to the Chicago-based First District Appellate Court whether medical expenses are available.
A three-justice panel sided with the Williams family on Feb. 26.
"Where the pleadings establish that the birth of a diseased child is a foreseeable consequence of a negligently performed sterilization procedure, then wrongful pregnancy plaintiffs should be able to obtain an award of extraordinary damages," Justice Aurelia Pucinski wrote for the court.
Pucinski also refuted claims that the defendants should not be held liable because they did not cause the child's disease.
"Here, although Dr. Rosner did not actually cause Kennadi's sickle cell disease, one can conclude that her birth and affliction was not only foreseeable, but that it would not have occurred 'but for' the negligently performed tubal ligation procedure," Pucinski wrote.