Woman sues doctor for being born, wins millions

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 2 Dec 2021, 4:31PM
Evie Toombes launched the "wrongful conception" case against the GP who neglected to advise her mother on folic acid, leading to her being borth with Spina Bifida. (Photo / Instagram)
Evie Toombes launched the "wrongful conception" case against the GP who neglected to advise her mother on folic acid, leading to her being borth with Spina Bifida. (Photo / Instagram)

Woman sues doctor for being born, wins millions

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 2 Dec 2021, 4:31PM

A young woman, who is a star showjumper, has successfully sued her mother's doctor for millions in damages over the claim that she should have never been born. 

According to The Sun, Evie Toombes launched the "wrongful conception" case against the GP as she suffers from Spina Bifida, a condition that causes her life-long health problems and, she argues, could have been avoided if her mother's GP had advised her correctly. 

The foundation of the successful legal claim made by the 20-year-old was one of "wrongful conception". She accused Dr Philip Mitchell of failing to advise her mother to take the recommended supplements prior to getting pregnant, leading to Toombes "having been born in a damaged state," her barrister Susan Rodway QC told the court. 

Spina Bifida can be prevented by the mother-to-be taking folic acid supplements prior to and throughout the pregnancy. Toombes argued that, had her mother been advised of the importance of folic acid, she would have delayed falling pregnant and, as a result, Toombes would not have been born. 

In a landmark ruling handed down today, London's High Court today, Judge Rosalind Coe QC found in favour of Toombes and awarded her the right to significant financial compensation. 

The precise amount of the settlement is still to be calculated it can be assumed that it would be "big" as it needs to cover Toombes' medical costs for life. 

Toombes' mother, Caroline, of Skegness, England, went on the record to describe her interactions with Dr Mitchell, which was read out in court by her daughter's lawyer, Susan Rodway. 

"This was a very precious decision to start a family, because she herself had lost her parents when she was young," Rodway told the judge. 

"They had been refraining from sexual intercourse until after they had received advice at this consultation." 

"It is her evidence she would have read up on it and wouldn't have attempted to become pregnant until she was satisfied that she had protected herself as much as possible," Rodway continued. 

Evie was diagnosed with a lipomylomeningocoele (LMM), a form of neural tube defect, after her birth in November 2001. She has "very limited" mobility and will likely require a wheelchair as she grows older. Toombes also suffers regularly from bowel and bladder issues, her lawyer told the court. 

In her statement in favour of Toombes the Judge stated that she found that Evie Toombes' mother: 

"Was not advised about the relationship between folic acid supplementation and the prevention of spina bifida/neural tube defects. 

"Had she been provided with the correct recommended advice, she would have delayed attempts to conceive. 

"In the circumstances, there would have been a later conception, which would have resulted in a normal healthy child. I therefore find that the claimant's claim succeeds on liability." 

The court will resume to determine the full cost awarded in damages to Toombes.