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Court: Mom Can't Sue Over Circumcision

  Breaking Legal News  -   POSTED: 2008/02/07 09:21

The Minnesota Court of Appeals has ruled that a mother who didn't like the way her baby's circumcision looked cannot sue a Fridley hospital for medical malpractice.

Dawn Nelson sued Unity Hospital and Dr. Steven Berestka, claiming the doctor removed "the most erogenous tissue" after the boy was born on Jan. 21, 2000 — without consulting either parent. Nelson and the boy's father, David Nelson, were unhappy with the result.

But the Appeals Court noted in its Tuesday decision that the mother indicated on a prenatal form that the baby should be circumcised.

Attorney Zenas Baer, who is representing the mother and son, said he was disappointed with the court ruling.

He said federal regulations say there has to be a signed informed consent form before any surgery — and he argued that a checked-off box on a form regarding circumcision is beside the point, saying "isn't the mom allowed to change her mind?"

Baer said his client plans to appeal.

Dawn Nelson initially sued the doctor, alleging assault and battery and negligence. That claim was settled separately. The claims against Unity Hospital and its parent company, Allina Health System, went forward.

Nelson claimed the hospital had a duty to verify that the doctor obtained informed consent and she claimed the hospital had been deceptive or misleading in its informed consent policy.

A Hennepin County judge disagreed and dismissed the case. The appellate court affirmed the lower court decision.

As for the child, another surgeon "performed a revision for cosmetic purposes" shortly after the initial circumcision, the ruling said.

Mark Whitmore, an Allina attorney, said the company was pleased with the ruling.

According to Baer's Web site, he "contributes substantial amounts of time to ending the barbaric practice of routine infant male circumcision worldwide, insuring genital integrity for all citizens of the world."


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