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Blouin v. Koster

Superior Court of Rhode Island

July 19, 2016

JASON BLOUIN, INDIVIDUALLY, AND AS FATHER AND NEXT FRIEND OF QUENTIN BLOUIN, XAVIER BLOUIN, AND DECLAN BLOUIN, and HEATHER BLOUIN, INDIVIDUALLY
v.
DIVYA KOSTER, M.D., JOSEPH SINGER, M.D., PATRICIA LYNCH-GADALETA, PA-C, RIVERSIDE PEDIATRICS, INC., KAREN L. MCGOLDRICK, M.D., SANTINA L. SIENA, and UNIVERSITY OB-GYN, INC.

         Providence County Superior Court

         "The law is reason free from passion." - Aristotle

          For Plaintiff: Paul P. Baillargeon, Esq.

          For Defendant: Paul F. Galamaga, Esq.; Joshua E. Carlin, Esq.

          DECISION

          LICHT, J.

         Plaintiffs-Heather Blouin (Mrs. Blouin) and Jason Blouin (Mr. Blouin) (collectively, Parents or Plaintiffs)-brought the instant Complaint alleging negligence against Defendants individually and on behalf of their sons Quentin Blouin (Quentin), Xavier Blouin (Xavier) and Declan Blouin (Declan) (collectively, Children or Plaintiffs). Defendants-Divya Koster, M.D. (Koster), Joseph Singer, M.D. (Singer), Patricia Lynch-Gadaleta, PA-C (Lynch-Gadaleta), Riverside Pediatrics, Inc. (Riverside), Karen L. McGoldrick, M.D. (McGoldrick), Santina L. Siena, M.D. (Siena), and University OB-GYN, Inc. (University) (collectively, Defendants)-have moved to dismiss all but four counts of the Complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Superior Court Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons set forth in this Decision, the Court denies the Defendants' motions in part and grants them in part.

         I

         Facts and Travel

         Mr. and Mrs. Blouin are the parents of Quentin, Xavier, and Declan, all of whom are minors. After the birth of their third child, Declan, Mr. and Mrs. Blouin became aware that they were both carriers for cystic fibrosis (CF). Due to the fact that both parents are carriers of CF, any children born to Mr. and Mrs. Blouin have a twenty-five percent chance of contracting the genetic disorder. Mr. and Mrs. Blouins' two youngest children, Xavier and Declan, have been diagnosed with CF. Following Xavier and Declan's diagnoses, Mr. and Mrs. Blouin brought the instant Complaint. The facts relevant to the motions as alleged in the Complaint are as follows.

         Sometime after March 1, 2005, Mrs. Blouin became pregnant with her first child, Quentin. During that pregnancy, Mrs. Blouin was under the care of her OB-GYN, McGoldrick. Prior to Quentin's conception, McGoldrick did not conduct any genetic screening or testing to determine whether Mr. or Mrs. Blouin were carriers for CF. On January 21, 2006, Mrs. Blouin gave birth to Quentin, who was born without CF. Sometime thereafter, Mrs. Blouin discussed with McGoldrick her intention to conceive a second child. In December of 2008, Mrs. Blouin became pregnant with her second child, Xavier. Once again, neither Mr. Blouin nor Mrs. Blouin received genetic testing or screening to determine whether they were carriers for CF prior to conceiving Xavier or during that pregnancy.

         Xavier was born on September 20, 2009. Two days later, he received a Newborn Screening Test (NST), which did not detect the presence of CF or any other genetic abnormality. However, over the next three years, Xavier paid numerous visits to Riverside where he was treated by Koster, Singer and Lynch-Gadaleta for reoccurring CF symptoms including chronic coughs, severe congestion, chest and lung infections, abnormal bowel movements, malnutrition, and failure to thrive. Despite his symptoms, at no time during any of Xavier's visits to Riverside did Koster, Singer or Lynch-Gadaleta mention the possibility that Xavier might suffer from CF or diagnose Xavier with CF.

         On February 7, 2011, Mrs. Blouin was seen by Siena at University. During her appointment, Mrs. Blouin informed Siena that she was planning to conceive a third child within the next three or four months. On or about January 2012, Mrs. Blouin became pregnant with her third child, Declan. Siena did not offer Mr. Blouin or Mrs. Blouin preconception screening in order to determine whether they were carriers for CF prior to Declan's conception. On September 10, 2012, Mrs. Blouin gave birth to Declan. An NST performed on Declan two days later revealed that Declan had tested positive for CF. On September 10, 2012, Declan underwent a sweat test through Lifespan Laboratories, which confirmed the results of the earlier NST. Despite Declan's diagnosis, none of the Defendants recommended that Xavier or Quentin be retested for CF.

         On December 21, 2012, Mrs. Blouin informed Singer that due to Declan's diagnosis, she had been advised to have Xavier and Quentin tested for CF. On January 2, 2013, Xavier underwent a sweat test, which showed abnormally high levels of chloride, a symptom of CF. On June 28, 2013, Mrs. Blouin reported to Singer that Xavier had tested positive for CF. On or about July 2013, both Declan and Xavier were positively diagnosed with CF. Further, on August 1, 2013, Xavier was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. During 2013, Mrs. Blouin continuously reported suffering from high stress and anxiety levels out of concern for the health and well- being of Xavier and Declan. She has since been treated and prescribed medication for severe anxiety and stress.

         On August 31, 2015, the Parents filed the instant Complaint. The Parents-individually and as next friends of the Children-allege that the Defendants negligently breached the required standard of care when they 1) failed to counsel or offer genetic counseling to the Parents regarding the likelihood that their Children would inherit CF; 2) failed to timely treat Xavier for CF; and 3) failed to timely diagnose Xavier with CF prior to the birth of Declan. The Complaint alleges that had the Parents known that they were carriers of CF they would not have conceived the Children. Moreover, the Complaint alleges that had the Defendants timely diagnosed Xavier, the Parents would not have conceived Declan.

         In Counts 1-5 of the Complaint, the Parents seek damages for emotional distress and the extraordinary medical expenses they have incurred and will continue to incur for the treatment and care of Xavier and Declan. In Counts 6-11 of the Complaint, Xavier and Declan-through the Parents as next friends-seek damages for the extraordinary medical expenses they will incur upon reaching majority and in the event that they outlive their parents. In Counts 12-21 of the Complaint, the Parents seek damages for loss of consortium. In addition, in Counts 22-26 of the Complaint, Quentin-through the Parents as next friends-has alleged loss of consortium claims against the Defendants. In Counts 27-36, the Parents have alleged respondeat superior against Riverside and University for the alleged negligence of Singer, Koster, Lynch-Gadaleta, Siena, and McGoldrick.

         Subsequently, the Defendants separately filed motions to dismiss all but four counts of the Complaint. This Court notes that McGoldrick has not moved to dismiss Count 1, which alleges that due to her negligent failure to offer genetic screening or properly counsel the Parents as to the dangers of CF, McGoldrick is liable to the Parents for the wrongful births of Xavier and Declan. Moreover, McGoldrick has not moved to dismiss Counts 12, 17, and 22, which allege loss of consortium claims on behalf of Mrs. Blouin, Mr. Blouin, and Quentin. In her motion to dismiss, McGoldrick has only moved to dismiss Counts 6 and 7, which allege that due to her negligence, McGoldrick is liable for the extraordinary medical ...


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