The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, November 18, 2020 1:00 am

$10 million awarded in 'wrongful life' case

Associated Press

SEATTLE – A federal judge in Seattle has awarded $10 million to the family of a severely disabled child who was born after a community clinic nurse inadvertently gave the mother a flu shot instead of a birth-control injection.

The Seattle Times reported that U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik last week awarded the child $7.5 million for her medical, educational and other expenses, on top of $2.5 million in damages for her parents. After a trial earlier this year, Lasnik found that the mother, Yeseni Pacheco, did not want to become pregnant and would not have become pregnant in 2011 if the nurse at the Neighborcare Health clinic had given her the correct shot.

The federal government is responsible for the damages because the clinic is federally funded.

The family's lawyers, Mike Maxwell and Steve Alvarez, described the case in court documents as a “wrongful pregnancy” and “wrongful life” case. They said the case was a hard-fought battle and sharply criticized the government for refusing to accept responsibility at the outset.

“Luis and Yesenia Pacheco are pleased that they're closer to receiving the funds needed for their daughter's extraordinary medical care and training,” they wrote in a statement. “It was a long hard road for the family.”

Emily Langlie, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Seattle, which defended the lawsuit, said some of the delays were necessary to ensure medical experts could accurately measure the extent of the child's disabilities. Justice Department lawyers are asking that some of the award be placed in a “reversionary trust” that would return to the government if the girl does not need it.

Sign up for our daily headlines newsletter

Top headlines are sent daily