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Remy v. MacDonald

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.  Due to a unique symbiotic relationship between a mother and her unborn child, a pregnant woman does not owe a duty of care to her unborn child to refrain from negligent conduct that may result in physical harm.

    Facts. Five-year-old Plaintiff sought to recover damages based on the alleged negligence of her mother in connection with a two-car accident that occurred when the mother was 32 weeks pregnant with the plaintiff.  Due to the accident, the plaintiff was born by emergency c-section four days later and continued to suffer from multiple breathing difficulties associated with her premature birth.  The plaintiff claimed that her mother’s negligent driving caused the accident that led to the plaintiff’s premature birth and subsequent injuries.

    Issue. Whether a child born alive can maintain a tort action against her mother for personal injuries incurred before birth because of the mother’s negligence.

    Held. No.  Due to a unique symbiotic relationship between a mother and her unborn child, a pregnant woman does not owe a duty of care to her unborn child to refrain from negligent conduct that may result in physical harm to that child.  The judicial creation of such a duty would present an almost unlimited number of circumstances that would likely give rise to litigation.

    Discussion. This case stands for the proposition that courts do not recognize a woman’s legal duty of care in negligence to her unborn child.


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