Opening arguments had been slated to begin in the case of Page v. Moses Taylor Hospital, a medical malpractice action in suburban New York following the death of two unborn twin girls in utero after their mother suffered from pre-eclampsia.
This dangerous condition occurs usually 20 weeks into gestation, and is characterized by high blood pressure. Even a slightly high blood pressure can be an indication, and if left untreated, the condition can be fatal to both the unborn child and the mother. The only cure is immediate delivery of the baby. In this case, that cure came too late. According to court records, a seizure suffered by the mother caused the placenta to become detached from the womb. The girls were stillborn at nearly 34 weeks and the mother, then 29, was forced to undergo an emergency hysterectomy to stop the hemhorraging, meaning she can never have any more children.
Leading up to the trial date, the judge made a number of rulings that favored the plaintiff, including allowing an expert witness to testify about the pain experienced by the twin fetuses as they died in their mother’s womb. This was an essential element of the case that would have furthered her compensation for pain and suffering. The judge also ruled that despite protests from the defense, a preeclamptic stillbirth has a valid emotional effect on the mother. The defense had tried to argue in a motion in limine that any evidence of emotional distress should not be allowed to be presented to jurors. Continue reading