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Jury Awards Couple $4.5 Million for Child Born With Disabilities Who “Should” Have Been Aborted

by | Sep 16, 2011

By Dave Andrusko

Mother Ana Mejia hugs legal assistant Kellie Aquino as attorney Robert Bergin, left, shakes hands with father Rodolfo Santana after they were awarded a 4.5 million dollar judgment for their son Bryan.

After  nearly nine hours of deliberation, a Palm Beach County Circuit Court jury last week awarded the parents of a child born without arms and with one leg $4.5 million, accepting their claim that they would have aborted their son had technicians “properly read” sonograms and  informed of them of his disabilities.

“During a roughly two-week-long trial, [Ana] Mejia and [Rodolfo] Santana claimed they would have never have brought Bryan into the world had they known about his horrific disabilities,” wrote Jane Musgrave of the Palm Beach Post. “Had [Dr. Marie] Morel and technicians at OB/GYN Specialists of the Palm Beaches and Perinatal Specialists of the Palm Beaches properly administered two ultrasounds and seen he was missing three limbs, the West Palm Beach couple said they would have terminated the pregnancy.”

Attorney Mark Rosen said his clients will appeal the verdict.  

The jury, comprised of four men and two women, found Morel 85% and an ultrasound technician 15% negligent “for failing to properly read sonograms that would have alerted the couple of their son’s disabilities before he was born in October 2008,” according to Musgrave. The couple had sought $9 million.

“There is nothing Dr. Morel wants more than for Bryan Santana to have a happy, healthy life,” said Rosen. “That doesn’t mean they’re responsible. Is it fair to blame physicians for acts of nature?”

In choosing not have amniocentesis  after ultrasound, “Rosen said the couple decided that they would rather give birth to a child that might have a physical or mental disability rather than risk losing it,” Musgrove reported.”That, he said, is contrary to their claims that they would have aborted their unborn son.”

Mejia’s testified that after the ultrasound detected the possibility that Bryan, now a happy three-year-old, would be born with Down syndrome, a genetic counselor told her “there was a 99.9 percent chance he wouldn’t have the form of mental retardation.” The couple said they did not have amniocentesis because there was a one in 500 chance it could cause a miscarriage

The couple’s lawyer, Jason Weisser, insisted that while a “slight” risk of Down syndrome was discussed with the couple, the “issue” of missing limbs was not.

Paul Cooper, writing on Pajamasmedia.com, excoriated the verdict and asked

“What would that jury have done if the parents complained that the clinic told them they were having a male but they had a female? What would the reaction be to a parent openly saying that they deserve millions because they would have aborted their girl if they knew she was going to be a girl? Any ultrasound nurse will tell you that every once in a while they get the gender wrong.  Does this give precedence for future lawsuits?”

Cooper also asked of the impact on Bryan later in life, knowing his parents would have opted to abort him, had they known of his disabilities.

“I hope when little Bryan grows up he never Googles himself or his parents. I can’t imagine the horror when he reads that his parents wish they would have killed him. I wonder how quickly he will grasp that his parents think his life, since he has disabilities, isn’t worth living.  I wonder if that jury considered how the disabled community would feel if they knew that a jury awarded these parents millions because they missed the opportunity to abort their disabled son.”

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