Federal Court Allows Negligence Claim of Unborn Fetus to Proceed Against Mother’s Employer

Sidney Mejia was employed by Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago as the Office Manager/Billing Coordinator.  In September, 2012, she informed her supervisor that she was 12 weeks pregnant with her first child.  She also disclosed that she was diagnosed with a high-risk pregnancy.  Mejia claimed that after disclosing that she was pregnant, she was demoted to the position of Program Assistant.  She also claimed that her employer required her to perform manual labor tasks including moving heavy cabinets, moving heavy paper shredding bins and scrubbing the carpets in the office.  On January 23, 2013, Mejia suffered an anxiety attack, and was taken by ambulance to the hospital to avoid premature labor.  On January 28, Mejia went into premature labor.  Mejia was then terminated on February 15, 2013.  She claims that her son suffers from developmental delays because of the premature birth.  She filed suit in federal court, and among other claims, asserted a negligence claim on behalf of her son against the employer for causing the premature birth.  Catholic Charities sought to dismiss the claim, arguing that it was a novel theory.  District Court Judge Robert Dow denied the Defendant's Motion, and allowed the son's claim to proceed, affirming the right of an unborn child to have a personal injury claim against the party who caused it.  The case will now proceed into the discovery phase.