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That the legislature in Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 24, § 2931(2) (2016) has created a very specific category of damages—"the hospital and medical expenses incurred for the sterilization procedures and pregnancy, the pain and suffering connected with the pregnancy and the loss of earnings by the mother during pregnancy"—that are available in a very specific and limited circumstance, namely when "a failed sterilization procedure results in the birth of a healthy child," means, employing well-recognized principles of statutory construction, that those are the only damages that may be awarded as a result of claims arising from the birth of a healthy child. As expressed in Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 24, § 2931(1) and (2) (2016), the birth of a healthy child is not a legally cognizable injury and an action may only be maintained for limited damages if the healthy child is born as a result of a failed sterilization.
After Kayla Doherty gave birth to a healthy son in June 2014, she filed a complaint against Merck & Co., Inc., and the United States in the United States District Court for the District of Maine, alleging that in February 2012, at a community health center for which the United States was responsible, a physician negligently failed, as a result of Merck's defective applicator, to insert into her arm an implant manufactured by Merck that was designed to prevent pregnancy for at least three years.
Does the protection of Maine's Wrongful Birth statute, 24 M.R.S.A. § 2931, extend to the defendant Merck & Co., Inc., as a drug manufacturer and distributor?
The court held that Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 24, § 2931 (2016) barred Doherty’s suit alleging failure of the company's product resulted in a normal pregnancy leading to a healthy child's birth because the statute barred such a suit against any defendant, and the statute's failed sterilization procedure exception did not apply. The failed sterilization procedure exception in Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 24, § 2931(2) (2016) did not apply because "sterilization" did not include Doherty’s implant designed to temporarily prevent procreation.