July 5, 2022

Australian parents lodge “wrongful birth” claim

After losing a case for damages for the birth of their severely disabled son based on a “wrongful life” claim, a Sydney couple has returned to the courts with a “wrongful birth” claim for A$10 million.

After losing a case for damages for the birth of their severely disabled son based on a “wrongful life” claim, a Sydney couple has returned to the courts with a “wrongful birth” claim for A$10 million.

Keeden Waller was born in August 2000 with a rare blood clotting condition. This caused a massive stroke soon after his birth which left him unable to walk, talk or use a toilet. His parents are suing the IVF specialist under whose care he was conceived. Lawrence Waller, the father, suffered from the same condition but somehow the doctor failed to link the parents up with a genetic counsellor.

”There was a duty of care on the part of Dr James to ensure that both he and the Wallers understood that this problem could be passed on and for there to be proper counselling and discussion about the other options they had, including the option of an anonymous sperm donor,” the Wallers’ lawyer argues.

The doctor’s lawyer contends that he was not responsible for finding out whether a rare genetic condition could be inherited. ‘‘There is no question that Debbie and Lawrence Waller have experienced a tragic event and that the Keeden Waller situation is extremely sad,’’ said their lawyer. ‘‘But they are intelligent adults who were advised to speak to a genetic counsellor. They chose not to take up that advice.’’

The outcome of the case – which is far from certain – is sure to influence compensation to parents of other disabled children.

In 2006 the couple failed in the High Court of Australia when their lawyers argued that the birth was a “wrongful life”. At that time, the court ruled that the IVF specialist did not cause Keeden’s disabilities and that the couple could not claim that it would have been better if Keeden had never been born. ~ Sydney Morning Herald, Feb 1; skepticlawyer, Feb 1

Michael Cook
wrongful birth
wrongful life