Thursday, January 31, 2013

Hegyes v. Unjian Enterprises, Inc. case brief

Hegyes v. Unjian Enterprises, Inc. case summary
286 Cal. Rptr. 85 (Cal. Ct. App. 1992)
Tort Law

PROCEDURAL HISTORY: Plaintiff, a minor child, sought review of a judgment of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County (California), which dismissed her action for preconception negligence after sustaining defendant supply company's demurrer to the complaint without leave to amend.

FACTS:
-The mother of plaintiff, a minor child, was involved in a car accident with defendant's employee. She brought suit for injuries and settled that action.
-Two years later she became pregnant and gave birth to plaintiff, who suffered from injuries relating to premature birth.
-Plaintiff brought a complaint for preconception negligence.
-Defendant demurred on the ground that no legal duty of care existed because claims for preconception negligence involve a special "physician-patient" relationship which gives rise to a duty to the fetus.
-In the absence of such a relationship, a legal duty had never been found under California law.
-The trial court agreed, finding that recognition of plaintiff's claim would constitute an unwarranted extension of the duty of care. 

HOLDING:
The court affirmed, holding that a motorist could not reasonably foresee that his negligent conduct might injure a child subsequently conceived by a woman several years after a car accident.

ANALYSIS:
-Unlike a medical professional's conduct, which is directly related to whether a child is conceived or born, such conception or birth was not a reasonably foreseeable result of the operation of a car.

RULES:
Absent professional negligence or product liability, no legal duty is imposed upon parties to protect subsequently conceived fetuses from injury.

CONCLUSION: The court affirmed the decision dismissing plaintiff minor child's action for preconception negligence after sustaining defendant supply company's demurrer because no duty of care existed because the motorist could not reasonably foresee that his negligent conduct might injure a child subsequently conceived by a woman several years after a car accident.

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