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Burke v. Rivo
Massachusetts Supreme Court
551 N.E. 2d 1 (1990)
Carole Burke (plaintiff) had three children. Burke and her husband were struggling financially, and she wished to return to work. Burke told her doctor, Elliot Rivo, that she did not want to have more children. Rivo advised Burke to undergo a tubal ligation using a method called bipolar cauterization. Bipolar cauterization, however, was not a foolproof sterilization technique. There was a risk of recanalization, allowing a woman to get pregnant. Rivo did not tell Burke of the risk of recanalization. Burke agreed to the procedure, and Rivo performed a bipolar cauterization on Burke. The next year, Burke became pregnant with her fourth child. One of Burke’s fallopian tubes had recanalized. After giving birth to her fourth child, Burke underwent a second tubal ligation using a different, more certain method. Burke sued Rivo for negligence. The trial court found in favor of Burke. It certified to the supreme court the question of whether Burke could recover damages for the costs of raising her fourth child. The supreme court granted certiorari.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Wilkins J.)
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