Earlier this month, a Prince Georges County, Maryland jury awarded nearly $400,000 for wrongful birth as the result of the mother/wife becoming pregnant after undergoing a bilateral tubal ligation (BTL) procedure. A BTL is a surgical procedure that involves blocking the fallopian tubes to prevent the female’s egg from being fertilized. In this case, the BTL was performed by cauterization (burning) but it also can be performed by cutting, removing sections of, or placing clips on the fallopian tubes.
In the lawsuit, the Plaintiffs alleged that the woman became pregnant five to eight weeks after undergoing the BTL on January 19, 2011. On April 11, 2014, the woman saw the defendant doctor for a regular visit and advised that she had missed her menstrual period. A pregnancy test was ordered and it was determined that she was in fact pregnant.
After the child was born, a radiological study with dye found that one fallopian tube still was patent (able to carry an egg). She then underwent a second BTL wherein it was found that while the left fallopian tube had been properly cauterized, the right fallopian tube was still perfectly intact. The physician performing this secondary BTL took photographs and video of the tubes before properly cauterizing the right tube, thereby permitting the Plaintiffs to concretely show the jury that a medical mistake had occurred. While the defense took the position that the fallopian tube had regrown – apparently a known risk of such a procedure – the Plaintiffs’ attorneys were able to cast doubt on this theory by showing that the pregnancy occurred within just five to eight weeks of the initial BTL procedure. The jury awarded $397,000 for the future cost of raising the child and did not reduce its award at all for the joy, comfort and society received by the parents from having the child.