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Woman Wins Millions in First ‘Wrongful Conception’ Lawsuit

Evie Toombes says she should have never been born

A 20-year-old woman who sued her mother’s doctor because she claims she never should have been born will be awarded millions of dollars.

Evie Toombes is a British showjumper who suffers from spina bifida. She has limited mobility and chronic bowel and bladder issues. At times, she must be hooked up to medical equipment for 24 hours. Her condition will progress and make her increasingly dependent on wheelchairs.

Toombes sued Dr. Philip Mitchell, who oversaw her mother’s pregnancy, for “wrongful conception [and] having been born in a damaged state.” She claimed he failed to properly advise her mother about vitamin supplements before she was conceived.

In her lawsuit, Toombes alleged that when her mother Caroline met with Mitchell before trying to conceive a child, he did not explain folic acid supplementation minimizes the risk of spina bifida.

Her mother testified in court that, had she been aware of this, she would have delayed trying to become pregnant.

Judge Rosalind Coe QC ruled in favor of Toombes and awarded her the right to a compensation payout. 

According to The New York Post, “her lawyers earlier said the amount Evie is claiming had not yet been calculated but confirmed that it would be ‘big’ since it would cover the cost of her extensive care needs for life.”

In London’s High Court on Dec. 1, Judge Coe affirmed that Mitchell had not advised Caroline Toombes on the importance of folic acid before conception and during the first trimester of pregnancy.

The judge said in her ruling that if Toombes’s mother had known the risks, she would have delayed trying to get pregnant and therefore would have had “a different, totally healthy, baby” genetically different from Evie.

The now 50-year-old Caroline met with Mitchell in February 2001 to discuss having a child.

Barrister Susan Rodway QC, who represented Toombes, told the judge, “This was a very precious decision to start a family because she herself had lost her parents when she was young.”

She added that Toombes’s parents had “been refraining from sexual intercourse until after they had received advice at this consultation.”

Caroline said the doctor did discuss folic acid during her appointment but not its connection to spina bifida.

“He told me it was not necessary,” she said in court. “I was advised that if I had a good diet previously, I would not have to take folic acid.”

After her birth in 2001, Evie was diagnosed with lipomylomeningocoele (LMM), a form of neural tube defect to the spine leading to permanent disability.

During the trial, Mitchell’s lawyer, Michael De Navarro QC, said that Caroline could have already been pregnant when she went to the meeting. He argued that the doctor provided her with “reasonable advice” regarding taking folic acid and that is standard advice to patients preparing for pregnancy.

Judge Coe rejected this defense,  saying “In the circumstances, I find that Mrs. Toombes was not pregnant at the time of the consultation with Dr. Mitchel.”

“She was not advised in accordance with the guidance to take folic acid prior to conception and for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy,” Coe said. “She was not advised about the relationship between folic acid supplementation and the prevention of spina bifida/neural tube defects. Had she been provided with the correct recommended advice, she would have delayed attempts to conceive.”

“In the circumstances, there would have been a later conception, which would have resulted in a normal healthy child,” she added. “I, therefore, find that the claimant’s claim succeeds on liability.”

If the parties cannot reach a settlement independently, the courts will reconvene and decide the full amount of Toombes compensation.

Toombes is a competitive showjumper who competes domestically and internationally against both able-bodied and disabled athletes.

She received Wellchild’s Inspirational Young Person Award in 2018. 

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12 responses to “Woman Wins Millions in First ‘Wrongful Conception’ Lawsuit”

  1. poly says:

    Thank you for this context. If she was advised to maintain a healthy diet, and didn’t, or failed to inquire as to what a healthy diet was if she did not know, then it’s not the fault of the doctor. Sue the mother, but then, mom doesn’t have 20 million. So tough shit.

  2. SouthWest says:

    He told Caroline that if she had a healthy diet, she would not need supplements, the heavy implication being that a healthy diet would have enough folic acid in it to begin with, if she didn’t then have said healthy diet, surely the young miss Toombes should have sued her mother for failing to maintain a more beneficial lifestyle.

  3. IanR says:

    Shouldn’t she have sued her parents? They conceived her, they didn’t seek alternative opinions, didn’t have tests to find any genetic or physical imperfections in utero, could’ve terminated the pregnancy at any point. Does she have siblings, able-bodied or not? Does the horse riding accelerate her condition?

  4. poly says:

    I actually agree with this.
    Some things are no one’s fault, but a preventable tragedy bears responsibility – be that a roof collapsing because a construction company failed to adhere to best practices, or when a doctor fails the same. Advising women about the health requirements in pregnancy is a bare minimum when seeking them out for consultation on pregnancy. This seems entirely compatible with medical malpractice.

    I simply have no clue how the court decided beyond a reasonable doubt that the doctor failed to advise about folic acid on the mother’s word alone… unless the doctor straight admitted it.

  5. TRose says:

    I wonder if you can do the same thing to automobile companies. They never tell you when you are going way too fast or driving too dangerously.

  6. pandusa says:

    How can ANYONE predict every possible outcome? Please someone sue them when I have a stroke due to being born at a time when I would eventually be thrust into a world totally devoid of common sense.
    I had a supervisor (became a friend) at work one time: 3-children- 3 unrelated birth defects – one child had spina bifida (eventually died of complications), one had dwarfism and I forget the third child’s birth defect, but it was later successfully surgically corrected. Duke University Medical Center said they had never seen this in one family. Sue the doctor?

  7. TexanAmerican says:

    Why didn’t she win an execution? Seriously.

  8. neilinda says:

    Wondering who she will sue when she falls of a horse?

  9. Moiseevy1 says:

    You know what I’m curious about, are they getting the money from the government (National Health Services) or a private practice? 2 words: “Virtue Signaling” Bitches!!!

  10. Skynet0225 says:

    Are you kidding me? She rides horses in professional equestrian events. Lousy things happen to people, but what happened to her is not the doctors fault. There’s no way this idiot judge can determine that the mother and child would have been fine if only the doctor told her take folic acid supplements. This is insane!

  11. Moiseevy1 says:

    That’s one of the craziest judgements I’ve ever heard….she just got dealt a bad deck of cards in life, hows that the doctors fault?

  12. Turk_Longwell says:

    I think this is a good thing. Though I love life and know it’s precious, but living a horribly sick and painful life has got to suck. I’m glad she’s getting monies. It probably won’t help her that much, but at least maybe she can buy the latest and great wheelchair, when that time comes, medicines, etc to help her live a happier life.