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Strasel v. Seven Hills Ob-Gyn Associates, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Ohio
866 N.E.2d 48 (2007)


Facts

Christina Strasel (plaintiff) went to Seven Hills OB-GYN Associates, Inc. (Seven Hills) (defendant) for an initial pregnancy appointment. A sonogram revealed a sac in her uterus, but did not detect a fetal heart beat. The sonographer’s report stated that she believed Strasel had a blighted ovum, a condition where an empty placental sac developed in the uterus without a fetus. The report recommended an additional sonogram and a blood test to confirm the pregnancy. Seven Hills physician, Dr. Xavier Ortiz, reviewed Strasel’s file including the sonographer’s report. Without personally examining Strasel or ordering an additional sonogram or blood test, Ortiz scheduled a dilatation and curettage (D & C) for the following morning. A D&C is essentially an abortion procedure. Ortiz told Strasel and her husband that he was confident in his diagnosis of a blighted ovum and informed Strasel that putting off the D&C might endanger her health. Four weeks after the D&C procedure, Strasel experienced bleeding, discomfort, pain, camping and nausea. Strasel also believed she was still pregnant. Strasel returned to Seven Hills where a blood test confirmed her pregnancy and a sonogram indicated that she had a 13-week-old fetus. Ortiz told Strasel that he misdiagnosed her viable pregnancy as a blighted ovum and informed her that the baby might have suffered significant and unknowable problems as a result of the D&C procedure. Strasel suffered from panic attacks and nightmares related to her fear of the harm the D&C may have caused to the child, separated from her husband, and suffered from major depressive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. Strasel delivered a healthy baby girl, but continued to worry about possible long-term neurological issues that may affect the child. Strasel filed suit against Seven Hills and Ortiz for malpractice and negligent infliction of emotional distress, and requested punitive damages. Arbitration awarded Strasel $210,000. Seven Hills and Ortiz appealed the arbitration award. A jury found in favor of Strasel and awarded damages of $372,000. The trial court denied motions by Ortiz and Seven Hills for a new trial and judgment notwithstanding the verdict. Strasel filed for a motion for prejudgment interest, which the court denied. Seven Hills appealed the jury’s verdict and Strasel appealed the trial court’s denial of prejudgment interest.

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Holding and Reasoning (per curiam)

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