Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Turpin v. Sortini case brief

Turpin v. Sortini case brief summary
643 P.2d 954 (1982)

CASE SYNOPSIS
Plaintiff, child born with hereditary deafness, appealed from the decision of the Superior Court of Fresno County (California) which dismissed her "wrongful life" action and claim for general and special damages against defendants, doctor, hospital, and others, involved in the misdiagnosis of the hereditary defect in her sister, which thereby deprived her parents of the ability to make an informed choice in conceiving her.

CASE FACTS
Plaintiff, child born with hereditary deafness, brought a "wrongful life" action seeking general and special damages from defendants, doctor, hospital, and others, who participated in the misdiagnosis of the hereditary defect in her sister thereby depriving her parents of the choice to conceive her.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY
The lower court dismissed the plaintiff's claim.

DISCUSSION
  • The court reversed, holding that plaintiff could not recover general damages for being born impaired as opposed to not being born at all, but could recover special damages for the extraordinary expenses necessary to treat the hereditary ailment. 
  • The court noted that while it was not necessarily true that the value of life always exceeded nonlife, the claim for general damages failed because it was impossible to determine whether plaintiff had suffered an injury in being born impaired, rather than not being born, and it was impossible to assess general damages. 
  • The court remanded the matter because if defendants' negligence was the proximate cause of plaintiff's present medical expenses, then the basic liability principles of Cal. Civil Code § 1714 would hold defendants liable for the cost of such care.
CONCLUSION
The court reversed the judgment to dismiss plaintiff's, child born with hereditary deafness, "wrongful life" action, holding that she was entitled to special damages if defendants, doctor, hospital, and others, were in fact the proximate cause of plaintiff's present medical needs. The matter was remanded. General damages were not awarded because it was impossible to determine whether she suffered an injury in being born versus not being born.

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