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Feb 2016

Robert J. Murphy and Kevin M. Sullivan recently obtained a dismissal on behalf of a Massachusetts social service agency that provided supportive services to individuals with psychiatric diagnoses.  The plaintiff sought damages for “wrongful birth,” alleging that the agency’s negligence in its care and supervision of an adult client with mental illness resulted in an unwanted pregnancy.  The plaintiff, who was the mother of the agency’s client, argued that her daughter was not competent to consent to sexual activity and the agency failed to take steps to prevent such activity from occurring at an agency residence.  The plaintiff, who subsequently became legal guardian of her adult daughter and adopted the grandchild, claimed the costs associated with raising the grandchild from birth to adulthood.  Attorneys Murphy and Sullivan moved to dismiss the case in its early stages on multiple grounds, including that the agency’s client had a right to engage in sexual activity and the agency could not impede on that right.   In dismissing the claims against the social service agency, the Superior Court agreed that the agency, which provided its client with contraceptive counseling and reported the pregnancy to the plaintiff within the first trimester, had no lawful ability or duty to prevent an adult client from engaging in consensual sexual intercourse or require that she use contraception.

Additional News & Notes

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