Tomlinson v. Metropolitan Pediatrics, LLC

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Tort Law
  • Date Filed: 12-30-2015
  • Case #: A151978
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Haselton, C.J. for the Court; Lagesen, P.J.; & Schuman, S.J.
  • Full Text Opinion

Parents of a child medical care providers failed to diagnose with a genetic condition may have a legally cognizable claim of negligence against the providers, where the parents conceived another child with the same genetic condition as the first, because providers failed to give due care to the parents' legally protected interest in making an informed reproductive decision.

The Tomlinsons (Plaintiffs), themselves and on behalf of their child Teddy, brought a complaint against Defendants alleging economic and noneconomic damages for negligence. Plaintiffs alleged Defendants breached the professional standard of care owed Manny, their first child, due to failure to diagnose Manny with a genetic condition and inform Plaintiffs of the condition so Plaintiffs could be advised of their reproductive risks prior to conceiving Teddy, who was born with the same genetic condition as Manny. Plaintiffs alleged the trial court erred in granting Defendants' motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim under ORCP 21 A(8) on the grounds that no physician-patient relationship existed between Plaintiffs and Defendants, wrongful birth and wrongful life are not cognizable claims in Oregon, and Plaintiffs failure to allege a physical injury or other legally protected interest as a basis for recovery of noneconomic damages. On appeal, the Court held the trial court erred in dismissing Plaintiffs' negligence claim for failure to allege a doctor-patient relationship because although Manny was the patient, and they suffered no physical impact normally required when seeking noneconomic damages, the Tomlinsons sufficiently alleged a special relationship between themselves and Defendants that gave rise to a heightened duty of care toward the Tomlinsons' legally protected interest in making informed reproductive decisions, and that interest was of sufficient importance as a matter of public policy to merit protection from emotional impact. The Court also held even if "life" could be an injury, Teddy failed to allege legally cognizable damages because the allegation was not that Defendants caused his genetic condition but rather that he never would have been born but for Defendants' negligence. Reversed and remanded as to Tomlinsons' negligence claim; otherwise affirmed.

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