The opinion of the court was delivered by: Lamberth, District Judge.
Now before the Court is a motion for reconsideration by the plaintiff.
Specifically, the plaintiff moves the Court to reconsider its September
21, 2000 decision barring the plaintiff from seeking damages for
emotional distress and extraordinary child rearing expenses. After a full
consideration of the parties' memoranda, and for the following reasons,
the Court GRANTS in part and DENIES in part the plaintiff's motion for
On July 27, 1997, Lakeshia Dyson filed suit against Dr. Joseph Winfield
under the common law of the District of Columbia as well as the District
of Columbia Wrongful Death and Survival Statutes, 16 D.C.Code §
2701; 12 D.C.Code § 101. She alleged, inter alia, that Dr. Winfield
negligently prescribed the drug Provera to her while she was pregnant,
causing her child to be born with numerous birth defects and eventually
die. As damages, Ms. Dyson prayed for, inter alia, "emotional distress
and mental anguish suffered by Dyson as a consequence of her baby's birth
defects" and "extraordinary child rearing expenses, including the value
of Dyson's time devoted thereto, attributable to Decedent's physical and
mental abnormalities." Complaint, July 23, 1997, at 4.
On January 21, 2000, Winfield moved to dismiss Dyson's claims for
emotional distress and extraordinary child rearing expenses. In a
September 21, 2000 Memorandum Opinion, the Court granted Winfield's
motion, reasoning that the applicable law permitted Dyson to recover only
"what the deceased would have been able to recover had he lived" as well
as the "reasonable expenses of last illness and burial." Memorandum and
Order, Sept. 21, 2000, at 21. Emotional distress and extraordinary child
rearing expenses, the Court reasoned, were not included in these
categories. Id. at 22.
Dyson now asserts that the Court's decision was incorrect as a matter
of law.*fn1 She argues that, although the Court was correct in regard to
its interpretation of the statutes, if erred in failing to consider the
availability of such damages under the common law. In support of this,
she cites (for the first time) several cases that articulate her
argument. Winfield opposes this argument. The Court will now resolve the
Upon a motion for reconsideration, a court will revise its decision if
if finds "(1) an intervening change in controlling law, (2) the
availability of new evidence, or (3) the need to correct clear error or
manifest injustice." McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. NASA, 109 F. Supp.2d 27,
28 (D.D.C. 2000) (Lamberth, J.). See also Firestone v. Firestone,
76 F.3d 1205, 1206 (D.C.Cir. 1996); EEOC v. Lockheed Martin Corp.,
116 F.3d 110, 112 (4th Cir. 1997). "A trial court has broad discretion to
grant or deny a motion for reconsideration." McDonnell Douglas, 109 F.
Supp.2d at 28. See also Plaut v. Spendthrift Farm, Inc.,
514 U.S. 211, 233-34, 115 S.Ct. 1447, 131 L.Ed.2d 328 (1995); Liljeberg
v. Health Services Acquisition Corp., 486 U.S. 847, 864, 108 S.Ct. 2194,
100 L.Ed.2d 855 (1988).
II. The Plaintiff's Motion to Reconsider
Prompted by the arguments that have heretofore remained absent from
this dispute, the Court finds that the plaintiff may seek damages for her
extraordinary child rearing expenses but may not seek damages for her
A. Recovery for Extraordinary Child Rearing Expenses
As explained in the Court's September 21, 2000 Opinion, extraordinary
child rearing expenses are not recoverable under the D.C. Wrongful Death
and Survival Statutes. That, however, is not the end of the matter in
this case. Subsequent to the passage of these statutes, the Court of
Appeals for the District of Columbia recognized that a plaintiff may
recover for extraordinary child rearing expenses under a common law cause
of action for wrongful birth. See Cauman v. George Washington Univ.,
630 A.2d 1104, 1105-06 (D.C. 1993); Haymon v. Wilkerson, 535 A.2d 880,
884-86 (D.C. 1987).
In the case at hand, the plaintiff brought her action under, inter
alia, the "common law of the District of Columbia relating to medical
malpractice, negligent breach of duty to inform, and wrongful birth."
Complaint, July 23, 1997, ¶ 1. Thus, under the controlling precedent
of the District of Columbia, the plaintiff may ...