The jury trial in Jessica Richards v. Dr. Russell Smith, CN 120905027, started yesterday (August 27th) in Judge Laura Scott’s court in Salt Lake. Plaintiff’s counsel is Dennis Gladwell; defense counsel is Mike Miller. The insurance carrier for the defendant is MICA.

Dr. Smith is a Sandy ob-gyn. The case involves a pregnancy termination of a 20-week old fetus with multiple fetal anomalies (Potter’s syndrome) inconsistent with life. Delivery was to be accomplished by induction and labor, rather than by dilatation and extraction. However, during delivery Mrs. Richards suffered a uterine rupture at her prior C-section scar. A hysterectomy became necessary because of uncontrollable uterine bleeding, and the development of pulmonary emboli led to a very stormy post-operative course.

The claim is that Mrs. Richards was not presented with the option of the D+E by Dr. Smith but rather only with the option of the induced labor. Had she been presented with that option, the claim is that she would have chosen it, and thus avoided the rupture, the hysterectomy, the emboli, and consequent sterilization. Dr. Smith strongly denies this, contending that Mr. and Mrs. Richards were advised of the option for the D+E by both himself and a consulting maternal-fetal medicine specialist.

Claimed damages include the cost of surrogate pregnancies in the future at about $100,000 each, as well as medical bills for Mrs. Richards’ hospital care.

Other defendants– Alta View Hospital and Dr. Kenneth Larsen– settled out before trial.

I will follow this case to verdict– it should take a least a week to try. This should be an interesting trial. Dennis Gladwell is an experienced trial attorney, formerly with Gibson Dunn & Crutcher. Mike Miller is a soft-spoken rising star of the defense bar blessed with a Jimmy Stewart persona that seems to resonate with Utah juries.

The court filings index to date is here.