The opinion of the court was delivered by: WILLIAMS
Plaintiffs Chris and Karyn Jones brought this wrongful birth action against Defendant United States under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 2671 et seq., to recover costs and damages associated with the birth and upbringing of their daughter Abbigayle. According to Plaintiffs, the United States is responsible for Karyn's pregnancy because U.S. Army doctors negligently failed to warn Karyn that the penicillin they prescribed for her could interfere with the effectiveness of her birth control pills.
The Court bifurcated the case and conducted a two-week bench trial on the issue of liability. After considering the entire record, the Court finds that Plaintiffs' evidence of causation does not meet the Daubert standard for admissibility in federal court. Furthermore, even if this evidence were admissible, the Court finds that Plaintiffs' have failed to satisfy their burden of proof on several elements of their case. This memorandum constitutes the Court's findings of fact and conclusions of law as required by Fed. R. Civ. P. 52(a).
In early 1992,
at the time of the events leading to this lawsuit, Karyn and Chris Jones were married and living together at Fort Ord, California. Chris was an active-duty sergeant in the U.S. Army. Trial Transcript ("Tr.), vol. 1, at 22, 27.
On January 16, Karyn went to an Army gynecologist, Dr. James Murphy, M.D., for an annual examination and to obtain a prescription for birth control pills. Dr. Murphy conducted a pap smear which showed that Karyn was not pregnant. Dr. Murphy also prescribed Triphasil-28 birth control pills, but he did not warn Karyn of the possibility that antibiotics could interfere with the effectiveness of her birth control pills. Tr., vol. 1, at 23.
Karyn began taking her birth control pills on February 2. Tr., vol. 1, at 24. During this time, Karyn and her husband had sexual intercourse an average of once per night. Tr., vol. 1, at 34.
On February 7, Karyn went to the Army dental clinic at Fort Ord complaining of a toothache. The dental clinic referred Karyn to the oral surgery unit at Silas B. Hayes Hospital, where oral surgeon Dr. Mark Cerbus, D.D.S. examined Karyn and determined that she needed oral surgery. To assure that no infection would be present at the time of surgery, Dr. Cerbus prescribed Penicillin-VK, an antibiotic, to be taken four times a day for six days. Karyn's medical chart indicated that she was taking birth control pills, but neither Dr. Cerbus nor his dental hygienist Susan Balistreri warned Karyn that the Penicillin-VK might interfere with the effectiveness of her birth control pills. Tr., vol, 1, at 27-30.
Karyn took four antibiotics pills per day on February 8 and 9, three pills per day on February 10 and 11, two pills on February 12 and one pill on February 13. Tr., vol. 1, at 32-33.
On February 19, Karyn returned to the dental clinic to have some lab work done in preparation for surgery, including a routine pregnancy test. She saw another oral surgeon, Dr. Caples, during this visit. Dr. Caples warned Karyn that antibiotics could reduce the effectiveness of her birth control pills. Tr., vol. 1, at 53-54.
After discovering that she was pregnant, Karyn discussed her options with her husband. Although neither Chris or Karyn wanted more children, and Karyn had had an abortion on a prior occasion, the Jones decided to continue Karyn's pregnancy to term. Tr., vol. 1, at 56-57, 101-102.
Karyn gave birth to Abbigayle, a healthy baby girl, on October 17. Tr., vol. 1, at 57. Since her birth, Abbigayle has had no significant health problems and has lived primarily with her grandparents in Mississippi. Abbigayle has only sporadic contact with her biological parents.
On August 11, Plaintiffs filed a Standard Form 95 administrative claim against their Army doctors for malpractice and wrongful life. The Army denied Plaintiffs' administrative claim on April 22, 1993. Plaintiffs thereafter filed this suit in federal court.
The Court bifurcated this case for purposes of trial. The sole issue in the first phase of the case is liability: whether the United States is liable for the costs attributable ...