A case regarding medical malpractice and a wrongful death claim may make it all the way to the State Supreme Court of Colorado. A widower is fighting Catholic Health Initiatives over a lower court ruling that stated since his twin sons died in their mother's uterus, they did not meet the state's definition of living. This excludes the babies from the wrongful death suit their father filed.
In 2006, the man took his 31-year-old wife to the St. Thomas More Hospital emergency room. She was 28 weeks pregnant with twin boys and experiencing vomiting and shortness of breath. She had a heart attack and died a short time later. Her twins were delivered, but they had died in the womb. Her husband filed a wrongful death suit for all three of them. The court sided with the hospital attorneys' claim that according to state law the babies were not considered living people due to the fact they died in the uterus. The case of the wife's death was dismissed for unrelated legal issues.
The doctors and the hospital proceeded to sue the widower for legal fees amounting to $118,000. They offered to drop the lawsuit if the widower would agree not to continue with the appeals process. The widower refused the offer and filed bankruptcy in an effort to avoid paying the legal fees. He claims that he is struggling to raise the couple's 9-year-old daughter on his own.
When a loved one dies unexpectedly at a medical facility, it may be difficult to consider taking legal action. However, a medical malpractice attorney may be helpful in offering suggestions that can allow for a settlement that helps a family go on after an unexpected death. It may also be possible for an attorney to prepare a case should there be a need to go to trial.
Source: FOX 13 News, "Lawyers for Catholic hospital argue that a fetus is not a person," Ben Brumfield and Kyung Lah, Jan. 28, 2013