Improperly performed abortion

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Case in Point

December 20, 2011

Improperly performed abortion 

Suit alleged that a women’s health center and its medical director provided fraudulent consent documents and failed to properly counsel, evaluate, and treat a woman seeking an abortion. The jury awarded about $18.74 million, including punitive damages. Doe v. Pendergraft.

During the second trimester of her pregnancy, Doe went to the Orlando Women’s Center (OWC) for an abortion. Non-physician staff members at the clinic evaluated Doe and gave her consent forms. Doe consented to an abortion performed by a licensed OWC physician.

Over the next 11 hours, staff administered multiple doses of Cytotec to induce labor, and later, RU-486. Doe, who was never seen by a doctor during the abortion process, was then told to leave the clinic while in active labor. She went to a hospital emergency room, where she delivered her daughter. Now 10, the child has been diagnosed as having catastrophic injuries, including cerebral palsy, and will require constant, life-long care.

Doe, on her daughter’s behalf, sued OWC and its medical director, alleging, among other claims, that the defendants failed to properly counsel, evaluate, or treat Doe; negligently allowed Doe to leave the clinic in active labor; and provided fraudulent consent documents.

The jury awarded about $18.74 million, including approximately $11.89 million in punitive damages against the medical director and about $6.11 million in punitive damages against OWC.

Citation: Doe v. Pendergraft, No. 2004-CA-1202 (Fla., Orange Co. Cir. Aug. 12, 2011).

Plaintiff counsel: AAJ members Frank F. Fernandez III and Jennifer Gentry Fernandez, both of Orlando, Florida.


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