Bader v. Johnson

732 N.E.2d 1212 (2000)

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Bader v. Johnson

Indiana Supreme Court
732 N.E.2d 1212 (2000)

Facts

Connie and Ronald Johnson (plaintiffs) had a baby born with hydrocephalus and other conditions that required extensive medical care until the child’s death four months after birth. When Connie became pregnant a second time, she sought counseling from Dr. Patricia Bader at a genetic-counseling company (collectively, the genetic counselors) (defendants) to determine whether her child would be born with defects. The genetic counselors performed tests that showed that the child was normal, and Connie gave birth to a healthy baby. Connie became pregnant again and consulted with the genetic counselors. Initial test results were normal, but an ultrasound revealed potential defects. The genetic counselors intended to schedule additional testing, but they failed to do so due to an office error. As a result, the Johnsons were not informed of the ultrasound results, and the baby was born with hydrocephalus. The baby required extensive medical care and died at four months old. The Johnsons sued the genetic counselors for negligence, seeking damages for the costs associated with carrying the child to term, the cost of the child’s medical treatment, lost income, emotional distress, and loss of consortium. The genetic counselors filed a summary-judgment motion, arguing that they did not cause the child’s defects and that allowing the Johnsons to recover for this type of injury would violate public policy. The trial court denied the motion, recognized a wrongful-birth cause of action, and permitted a wider range of damages than would have been permitted in a traditional negligence case. The appellate court affirmed the trial court’s judgment, and the genetic counselors appealed to the Indiana Supreme Court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Rucker, J.)

Dissent (Dickson, J.)

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