Feb. 18-24 , 2000

Judge dismisses 'baby switch' suit
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Judge dismisses 'baby switch' suit

A Stafford County Circuit Court judge has dismissed a $31 million lawsuit against the University Medical Center arising from the highly publicized "baby switch" case.

Judge James W. Haley ruled that Paula K. Johnson failed to show that she had suffered emotional distress or physical injury, and dismissed malpractice claims against the hospital because the two-year statute of limitations had run out before she filed the lawsuit. Even if the suit had been filed in time, Haley ruled that the state's $1 million cap on medical malpractice awards would have applied.

He also denied Johnson's claim of civil rights violations because he found that the hospital did not make "a conscious decision to switch the children's identity," and had not "demonstrated indifference, unconcern or apathy to the effect of such a switch."

Johnson has several legal options remaining. She could appeal Haley's ruling to the state Supreme Court, or file a separate case against the hospital on behalf of the daughter she has raised as her own, Callie Johnson, the biological child of Kevin Chittum and Whitney Rogers. Callie Johnson was switched shortly after her birth with Johnsonıs biological daughter, Rebecca Grace Chittum. The state's $2 million settlement offer to Paula Johnson is still on the table, according to a state official familiar with the case.


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