Chaffee v. Seslar

786 N.E.2d 705 (Ind. 2003)



Parents of healthy children born after an unsuccessful sterilization procedure involving medical negligence are entitled to pregnancy and childbearing expenses, but not child-rearing expenses. 


Plaintiff patient underwent sterilization surgery to prevent having more children. The patient subsequently became pregnant and had a healthy baby. Plaintiff sued defendant doctor alleging that the doctor's performance of a sterilization procedure had been negligent and seeking damages for the future expenses of raising a child. Defendant filed a motion for preliminary determination. The court  denied the motion and certified the order for interlocutory appeal. On appeal, the trial court's order denying the doctor's motion for preliminary determination was reversed and the case was remanded.


Is the cost of rearing a normal, healthy child born after an unsuccessful sterilization procedure cognizable?




The supreme court concluded that the value of the child's life to the parents outweighed the associated pecuniary burdens as a matter of law. The supreme court further concluded that recoverable damages might include pregnancy and childbearing expenses, but not the ordinary costs of raising and educating a normal, healthy child conceived following an allegedly negligent sterilization procedure.

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