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Thomas v. Khoury

patient in bed

Court: Supreme Court of Illinois

Citation: 2021 IL 126074

Opinion Date: December 16, 2021

Judge: Anne M. Burke

Areas of Law: Medical Malpractice, Personal Injury

This case law update is brought to you by Freeway Law auto accident and personal injury lawyers in Orange County. The following is not one of our cases, but it is of some significance, and we thought we should share it with our readers for informational purposes. The information above is for informational purposes only and not to be construed as legal advice.

The plaintiffs alleged that the doctors negligently failed to recognize that Thomas was pregnant before performing elective surgery on her and administering anesthesia, pain medication, and antibiotics, resulting in irreversible injury to the fetus. Thomas was subsequently informed by another physician that the fetus would not survive to term and the pregnancy should be terminated. Thomas had a lawful, consensual abortion. Because the abortion would not have occurred but for the doctors’ negligent conduct and the injuries suffered by the fetus, plaintiffs alleged that defendants’ negligence “ultimately caused the death of” the fetus.

Responding to a question certified by the trial court, the appellate court and Illinois Supreme Court held that the Wrongful Death Act, 740 ILCS 180/2.2, does not bar a cause of action against a defendant for fetal death if the defendant knew or had a medical reason to know of the pregnancy and the alleged malpractice resulted in a non-viable fetus that died as a result of a lawful abortion with requisite consent.

Section 2.2 addresses only the liability of the doctor who performs the abortion, not the liability of other physicians, and does not state that abortion is a superseding cause, as a matter of law, where a physician tortiously injures a fetus in a separate medical procedure.

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