Doctor seeks dismissal from suit brought by couple who would have terminated pregnancy if disorder was known

By Ann Maher | May 28, 2014

A Belleville obstetrician and his medical practice are denying allegations in a lawsuit brought by a couple claiming they would have terminated their pregnancy had they known about their child’s undiagnosed disorder.

Joseph Shumway, M.D. and HSHS Medical Group filed separate answers to the suit brought by Mary and Michael Cotton in St. Clair County Circuit Court in February.

Shumway, represented by Kenneth Burke of Brown and James in Belleville, asked to be dismissed from the Cottons’ suit on May 5.

HSHS Medical Group, represented by Michael Nester of Donovan Rose Nester in Belleville, stated in its affirmative defenses that Illinois does not recognize the couple’s purported cause of action.

“That whatever injuries and damages sustained by the plaintiffs, if any, are the direct and proximate result of plaintiffs’ own comparative negligence, comparative fault, contributory negligence, and/or contributory fault, and plaintiffs’ claim is barred by the doctrines of comparative fault, comparative negligence, contributory fault, and contributory negligence, and further, that this defendant’s purported liability for plaintiffs’ injuries and damages should consequently be reduced, in whole or in part, to the extent that plaintiffs’ own negligence and comparative negligence contributed and/or proximately caused the alleged injuries and damages herein,” Nester wrote.

The Cottons claim their child, who was born Feb. 14, 2012, had DiGeorge syndrome, a condition that occurs with the deletion of a chromosome. Children with the syndrome can exhibit various symptoms, including congenital heart disease, defects in the palate, learning disabilities, mild differences in facial features and recurrent infections.

They are represented by Samantha S. Unsell of Keefe and Keefe in Belleville.

The Cottons also claim Shumway failed to inform them of their child’s defect, which would have allowed them to terminate the pregnancy. Because of their child’s condition, the Cottons suffered mental anguish and emotional distress and incurred medical costs, according to the complaint.

The Cottons seek a judgment of more than $300,000, plus costs.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number 14-L-149.

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