Jury awards $50M after test misses birth defect

SEATTLE — Lawyers say a King County jury has awarded $50 million to a Burien couple whose son was born with profound mental and physical disabilities after a hospital and lab failed to detect his genetic abnormalities.

Brock and Rhea Wuth sued Valley Medical Center in Renton as well as Laboratory Corp. of America in 2010. They said Brock Wuth knew he was a carrier of the condition, informed Rhea Wuth’s doctors about it and would have terminated the pregnancy had they known the fetus had it.

The couple’s lawyers argued that Valley Medical’s maternal fetal medicine clinic was understaffed, and no genetic counselor was available when Rhea Wuth had her appointment. They said a medical assistant failed to send the lab documentation of the specific genetic abnormality to look for, while the lab itself didn’t follow its own procedures by requesting more information from the clinic.

The lab never ran a test sensitive enough to detect the condition, which carries a normal lifespan but requires lifelong care.

The jury returned its verdict Tuesday.

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