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Fassoulas v. Ramey

Citation. 450 So. 2d 822 (1984)
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Brief Fact Summary.

The Florida Supreme Court ruled that a plaintiff cannot sue for such a thing called “wrongful birth” simply because of a Doctor’s negligence in failing to adequately conduct a vasectomy procedure properly. 

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

The state of Florida does not allow a plaintiff to bring a civil action for the “wrongful birth” of a child despite a physician being negligent in a procedure that would have prevented the birth of that child even if the parents have to pay the necessary costs of raising a child. 


After giving birth to two children where both children were severely handicapped, Edith and John Fassoulas (Plaintiffs) decided John should undergo a vasectomy to be performed by Dr. Ramey (Defendant). Dr. Ramey was negligent in his vasectomy procedure and this allowed Plaintiffs to bare two more children one of which was born with severe handicaps and the other born healthy. After the birth of the second child, Plaintiffs brought suit for medical malpractice due to the “wrongful births” seeking damages. The Trial Court found Ramey negligent and Ramey appealed. 


May a plaintiff sue for the “wrongful birth” of a child under a theory of medical malpractice which would allow the parents to recover damages due to the fact of having to raise the child?


No. The Supreme Court of Florida determines that it is not the responsibility of the Doctor to pay for the life of the child even though he may have been negligent. However, the court does carve out an exception allowing the parents to recover any special expenses they may incur as a result of extra medical or educational expenses until the handicapped child reaches the age of majority in the state. 


The dissent argues that the plaintiffs now have an increased burden in raising four children where three of which are handicapped and they should be compensated as a result of the doctor’s negligence. 


The Court carves out an exception for any extra costs related to medical or educational services needed for the handicapped child that goes beyond the normal costs of raising a handicapped child. The court fails to distinguish it what circumstances might these costs be beyond the normal care of a handicapped child. 

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