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No Damages After Test Errors Led to Abortion

(CN) - A couple who had an abortion after doctors misinformed them about the results of certain prenatal tests cannot recover damages, a New York appeals court ruled.

Collette and Jeffrey Alger sued the University of Rochester Medical Center, Strong Memorial Hospital, a certified genetic counselor (CGC) and the director of Rochester's

Cytogenetics Laboratory for medical malpractice and for emotional injuries after Collette decided to terminate her pregnancy.

A jury in Monroe County found that Stephanie Laniewski, CGC, was not negligent, and that the hospital, medical center and Nancy Wang, the cytogenics lab's director, did not proximately cause the Algers' injuries, even though they were negligent.

The Appellate Division's Rochester-based Fourth Judicial Department affirmed on Feb. 7.

"We conclude that a reasonable view of the evidence supports the jury's view that Laniewski, a certified genetic counselor, was not negligent," the unsigned opinion states. "There was conflicting testimony concerning the communications between Laniewski and plaintiffs, and 'great deference is accorded the jury given its opportunity to see and hear the witnesses.'"

It also is not inconsistent to find that the negligence of the other defendants did not cause the Algers' injuries, according to the ruling.

"We conclude that there is a fair interpretation of the evidence pursuant to which the jury could have found that defendants Hospital and Wang were negligent in reporting erroneous test results to plaintiffs, but that their negligence did not proximately cause plaintiff's injuries," the five-justice panel wrote. "The evidence presented 'factual question[s] ... whether, under the circumstances, it could reasonably be expected that plaintiff ... would elect to undergo an abortion' and whether that decision was sufficiently independent of defendants' conduct to constitute an intervening cause. Those questions presented issues for the jury to resolve and we decline to disturb its resolution of those issues in defendants' favor."

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