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$8,225,000 Verdict in Wrongful Birth/Down Syndrome Trial

After more than 4 weeks of trial Daryl L. Zaslow obtained an $8,225,000 verdict on behalf of a 4 year old boy with Down syndrome and his parents. Mr. Zaslow argued that due to the mother’s advanced maternal age of 42 years she was at an increased risk of having a child with Down syndrome and required a specialized prenatal screening test called a targeted ultrasound, which is performed during 16-18 weeks of gestation. A targeted ultrasound focuses, or targets, the fetal anatomical markers known to be associated with Down Syndrome. One of the Defendants in the suit was Plaintiff’s obstetrician who did not order a targeted ultrasound, but rather, sent the mother for a standard obstetrical ultrasound. Unlike the targeted ultrasound, a standard obstetrical ultrasound is general prenatal screening test performed on pregnant patients who are not already identified as high risk and while it may detect the presence of markers for birth defects, its primary purpose is to confirm fetal growth and gestational age.

Although the standard obstetrical ultrasound was interpreted as normal by the defendant radiologist Plaintiff’s expert maintained that the ultrasound was misinterpreted by the radiologist and in fact showed a thickened nuchal fold which is a major marker or sign of Down syndrome. Mr. Zaslow argued that this finding necessitated that the mother be sent for further prenatal screening tests including a targeted ultrasound and ultimately an amniocentesis. Had an amniocentesis been performed it would have diagnosed Down syndrome and plaintiff’s mother would have terminated the pregnancy, thereby avoiding the extraordinary costs and mental anguish associated with raising and caring for a person with Down Syndrome.

Within moments of the plaintiff’s birth it was apparent that the infant had physical characteristics of Down syndrome or Trisomy 21. Chromosomal tests confirmed the diagnosis which results in mental retardation, facial and other physical stigmas and a shortened life expectancy.