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Girl Who Was Fetus When Dad Died Can Sue Doctor

 

The daughter of the late Slipknot bassist Paul Gray can sue a doctor for the loss of her father’s companionship, even though she was still a fetus when he died, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled Friday. The court acknowledged it’s the first time it’s had to decide such a case centered on the rights of a child during the time it is a fetus, but it cited similar conclusions in cases from Massachusetts and Wisconsin, the AP reports. The ruling comes in a case centered on the death of Gray, who was found dead in a suburban Des Moines hotel room in May 2010. An autopsy showed he died of an overdose of morphine and fentanyl, a synthetic pain killer similar to morphine. He was 38. His wife, Brenna Gray, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Dr. Daniel Baldi and several medical care providers claiming Paul Gray wasn’t properly monitored during drug addiction treatment. She sued for loss of spousal consortium and on behalf of her daughter, who wasn’t born until several months after Gray died.

Lower courts dismissed the case, saying Brenna Gray filed the lawsuit more than two years after her husband’s death, exceeding the state’s statute of limitations for such lawsuits. The high court upheld the dismissal for Brenna Gray’s lawsuit Friday, agreeing that she waited too long, but it ruled that their daughter, identified only as O.D.G., can pursue damages. Iowa’s statute of limitations law provides exceptions for minor children, saying any child under the age of eight must file a claim no later than the minor’s 10th birthday. Arguments centered on whether a fetus who is eventually born meets the statute’s definition of a minor. Baldi’s attorneys argued that a child of “negative age” cannot be considered a child under the age of eight. The court concluded that Paul Gray’s daughter experienced the loss of her father’s support, companionship, aid, affection, comfort, and guidance after she was born, not before. The justices warned that it would be a mistake for anyone to try to apply the rationale behind the ruling to the abortion debate.

 

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