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Jury awards $397K to mother who became pregnant after sterilization surgery

A Prince George’s County jury has awarded $397,000 to a couple who had a fourth child less than a year after the wife underwent surgery to prevent her from becoming pregnant again.

After Chivonne Posey and her husband, William, expressed their decision not to have more children to Dr. Paul D. Rogers, Mrs. Posey’s obstetrician-gynecologist, the doctor recommended she undergo a voluntary sterilization procedure called a laparoscopic bilateral tubal ligation, according to the complaint filed in Prince George’s County Circuit Court in 2013.

Rogers performed the surgery in January 2011, but several months later, Posey became pregnant, according to the lawsuit. She gave birth to a son later that year.

After a three-day trial and half a day of deliberations, a jury of three men and five women found in favor of the plaintiffs on Nov. 5, said John J. Condliffe, an attorney for the White Plains couple. The verdict included $240,000 to compensate the parents for the cost of raising their fourth child and $157,000 to cover the additional costs of services he will need to cope with his special needs, said Condliffe, a principal at Levin & Gann P.A. in Towson.

“My clients were very pleased by the verdict,” he said. “These are parents who were really hurt economically by what the jury found to be Dr. Rogers’ negligence. It was an appropriate verdict for people who are deserving.”

John J. Condliffe, attorney at Law. (File)

John J. Condliffe, a lawyer for William and Chivonne Posey, says Chivonne Posey has not returned to work since having the couple’s fourth child, which was not expected after she underwent preventive surgery. ‘Just like many middle class families, when you’ve got three kids, the cost of daycare sometimes outweighs what you get from going back to work,’ Condliffe says. ‘In the case of the birth of the fourth child, that became particularly true.’(File)

David A. Roling of Wharton, Levin, Ehrmantraut & Klein P.A. in Annapolis, an attorney for Rogers, said either post-trial motions or an appeal will be filed in the case.

“Our position is that the plaintiffs failed to prove causation,” he said. “Because this is a situation where this is a known, common complication that the fallopian tubes can reform, it’s our position that the plaintiff had to offer evidence why this was not part of the regular complications.”

Failed procedure

Several months after Rogers performed the surgery, Posey returned to his office complaining of irregular menstrual cycles, according to the lawsuit. Rogers ordered a pregnancy test, and on April 14, 2011, he told Posey she was five weeks pregnant.

Rogers also told her the tubal ligation procedure he’d performed was only 99.6 percent effective, and that it was possible her fallopian tubes had healed back together, the lawsuit states.

In May 2011, Posey stopped seeing Rogers and returned to a gynecologist who had overseen her first two pregnancies, according to the complaint. She gave birth to a son Nov. 30, 2011.

Condliffe said he called several expert witnesses at trial, including Dr. Andrew London, an OB/GYN; Steven Isberg, a finance and economics professor at the University of Baltimore; and Dr. Sheryl Jacobs, a psychologist and family and child therapist.

The defense also called several witnesses, including an OB/GYN, an economist, a life-care planner and Michael Johnston, vice president and chief medical officer at the Kennedy Krieger Institute, Condliffe said.

When the Poseys’ son appeared to be missing developmental milestones, he was referred by a pediatrician to the child development program at the Children’s National Medical Center, where he was diagnosed with a speech disability that requires early intervention and could impact his future success in school, Condliffe said.

The case revolved around the economic strain that having a fourth child placed on the Poseys, particularly because their youngest son was struggling with language delays and learning disabilities, Condliffe said. Because of his special needs, the family decided that Chivonne Posey would not return to work until her youngest child was older.

“Just like many middle class families, when you’ve got three kids, the cost of daycare sometimes outweighs what you get from going back to work,” Condliffe said. “In the case of the birth of the fourth child, that became particularly true.”

CHIVONNE M. POSEY, ET AL. V. PAUL D. ROGERS, ET AL.

Court: Prince George’s County Circuit

Case No.: CAL1324251

Outcome: Plaintiffs’ verdict for $397,000

Judge: James J. Lombardi

Dates:

Incident: Jan. 19, 2011

Suit filed: Aug. 19, 2013

Verdict: Nov. 5, 2015

Plaintiffs’ Attorney: Jack Condliffe of Levin & Gann P.A. in Towson

Defendants’ Attorney: David A. Roling of Wharton, Levin, Ehrmantraut & Klein P.A. in Annapolis

Counts: Negligence and informed consent


About Lauren Kirkwood

Lauren Kirkwood covers the business of law beat at The Daily Record.