Tomlinson v. Metropolitan Pediatrics, LLCAnnotate this Case
Plaintiffs Kerry and Scott Tomlinson (parents) and their son, T, brought separate negligence claims against defendants Mary K. Wagner, MD., Metropolitan Pediatrics, LLC, and Legacy Emanuel Hospital & Health Center. In their respective claims, plaintiffs alleged that defendants provided medical services to the parents’ older son, M, failed to timely diagnose M’s genetic disorder, and failed to inform the parents of that disorder. They further alleged that, “[h]ad defendants, and each of them, timely diagnosed [M’s] DMD, [the parents] would not have produced another child suffering from [DMD].” The trial court entered a judgment dismissing the complaint on the ground that neither the parents nor T were patients of defendants and, therefore, the court reasoned, defendants owed no obligation of professional care toward them. The Court of Appeals reversed that judgment as to the parents but affirmed as to T. The Oregon Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeals, and reversed in part and affirmed in part the trial court judgment dismissing this action. Under the parents’ theory of relief, the relevant injury was not the resulting life, but the negligent deprivation of information that was important to the parents’ protected interest in making informed reproductive choices. T’s claim necessarily depended on the premise that T had a legally protected interest in not being born, rather than risk being born with DMD. "[T]he doctrinal implications of recognizing T’s right to recover such damages would be significant." The Court concluded the factual allegations were sufficient as to the parents' claim. With respect to T's claims, however, the Court determined the "threshold difficulty with T’s argument is that it puts the damages cart before the liability horse; that is, T’s argument blurs the line between the identification of a cognizable injury and the determination of damages resulting from the injury. . . based on the facts that T alleges, defendants could not have caused T a physical harm."