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William Mitchell Law Review

Publication Information

31 William Mitchell Law Review 939 (2004-2005)

Abstract

Inherited genetic disorders are a well-known cause of developmental delays in children. It is, therefore, “foreseeable” to physicians treating developmentally delayed children that parents of these children will rely on the physicians’ opinions of whether a genetic cause exists. Accordingly in 1992, when Dr. Diane Meier, a pediatrician, discovered developmental delays in S.F., the three-year-old daughter of Kimberly Flomer (now Molloy) and Robert Flomer, “accepted standards of pediatric practice” required Dr. Meier to order genetic testing, including testing for Fragile X Syndrome, one of the most common causes of inherited mental retardation. The foreseeable consequences of Dr. Meier’s alleged failure to obtain Fragile X testing and the timing of those consequences provide the factual basis for a genetic counseling medical malpractice action that raises unique and challenging issues involving the legal duty of a physician to a non-patient, the accrual of a cause of action for statute of limitations purposes, and the ability of parents to bring a wrongful conception cause of action for the birth of a child with a genetic disorder. In the case of Molloy v. Meier, the Minnesota Supreme Court analyzed these issues following a denial of summary judgment by the district court and affirmance by the Minnesota Court of Appeals. The purpose of this note is to analyze the court’s discussion of these issues, identify questions raised by the court’s rationale and its holding, and offer suggestions on how these questions might be addressed in the future.