A King County jury has awarded a Burien couple the largest ever individual amount* in the history of Washington state, $50 million. The award is for a birth defect case, in which the jury concluded that Valley Medical Center in Renton and Laboratory Corporation of America (LabCorp) were negligent in the handling of a prenatal genetic test for the couple’s son.
The test conducted at Valley Medical Center and evaluated by LabCorp, failed to reveal any abnormalities even though chromosomal defect evaluation was the expressed purpose of the test. With the absence of the proper instructions, the test came back normal and the couple continued with the pregnancy. The couple’s son was born with severe mental and physical disabilities.
The jury concluded that if the genetic test had been handled correctly, it would have detected that the fetus had a chromosomal defect. With this result, the couple would have terminated the pregnancy. The King County Superior Court jury placed the blame equally on the two defendants.
Why the Amount of the Award
The boy, now age 5, has serious cognitive and physical defects. He will require life-long care needs. He is unable to run or walk upstairs, has a very low IQ, and can only say a few dozen intelligible words.
The couple faces significant expense in caring for their disabled son as he requires 24-hour care. In addition to the medical bills and economic damages involved, the jury awards is also for the pain, suffering, mental anguish of having a child born with serious mental and physical disability, and other general damages.
What Happens Next
The defendants will have to decide how they wish to respond to the award. Following the award, LabCorp stated they will consider all available options, including post trial motions and appeal, if necessary. Valley Medical Center did not initially comment on their plans but said in a statement their staff members acted appropriately. Additional details on this story can be found on the Seattle Times website.
*According to Jury Verdicts Northwest