A Montgomery County jury awarded $44.1 million to a Bethesda couple who alleged that their Rockville, Maryland fertility physician did not properly screen the surrogate mother who carried their baby. After the surrogate became pregnant, the couple learned that she had a history of complications she did not disclose to the doctor.
The surrogate delivered a little girl three weeks premature. After birth, the child was placed in neonatal intensive care, and she died some time later, due to sepsis and extreme prematurity. The couple then sued the obstetrician and her Rockville practice for medical malpractice and wrongful death.
Medical malpractice claims are rooted in the legal doctrine of negligence. Negligence refers to the failure of a person to exercise reasonable care in their conduct. Reasonable care is defined as how a prudent person would behave in the same or similar circumstances. In the context of medical malpractice claims, negligence occurs when a medical professional fails to use the level of care used by other medical professionals in the same specialty under the same or similar circumstances. Wrongful death claims are appropriate when negligence causes the untimely and preventable death of a loved one.