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Dietrich v. Inhabitants of Northampton
Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
138 Mass. 14 (1884)
A pregnant woman was walking on a highway when she came across a defect, slipped, and fell. The woman was between four and five months pregnant, and the fall caused her to miscarry her unborn child. The unborn child was not viable outside the mother’s womb and was unable to survive the premature birth. Peter Dietrich, an administrator (plaintiff), brought suit against Northampton (defendant) for the death of the unborn child. The trial court found that this cause of action could not be maintained and dismissed the suit. Dietrich appealed, arguing that in England, if a pregnant woman is injured at the hands of another, prompting early birth of the unborn child that the unborn child cannot survive, the injurer is guilty of murder. Dietrich seeks to have the same rule applied here.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Holmes, J.)
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