Suit: Another woman’s breast has ruined my life

Suit: Another woman’s breast has ruined my life
Lynda Williams’s daughter, Jalyn,, was breastfed by another woman in a mixup at Long Island College Hospital. She sued, but judges denied her claim of emotional pain.
Photo by Tom Callan

A Windsor Terrace mom whose baby was breastfed by another woman in a hospital switch-up wants to head to the highest court in the state after a lower court refused to grant her damages for the emotional pain of knowing that the baby’s first nourishment came from the breast of another woman.

“I’m very pissed off,” said Lynda Williams, who sued Long Island College Hospital in Cobble Hill for an unspecified amount in 2008. “They were supposed to take care of me and make sure my baby is safe. I definitely will appeal.”

But judges ruled that the medical center, located on Hicks Street between Atlantic Avenue and Pacific Street, doesn’t owe Williams anything because the error was discovered and fixed inside the hospital and her infant didn’t get sick or injured.

“The plaintiffs have failed to allege a cognizable cause of action to recover damages for emotional distress against the hospital,” the state Supreme Court Appellate Division ruled last week.

Williams’s daughter Jalyn was born on May 21, 2008, but the hospital briefly misidentified the child, even giving her to another infant’s mom for her first meal.

The error was discovered quickly, but that didn’t satisfy Williams.

“[The head nurse] didn’t take it seriously,” Williams said. “The experience was traumatizing.”

Williams, who lives on Prospect Avenue between Terrace Place and Seeley Street, was worried about the health or disease history of the other mom, who is not named in the suit. HIV and other infectious diseases can be passed through breast milk.

Hospital staff assured her that the other mother didn’t have medical problems, but would not provide her records because of patient confidentiality laws.

So Williams sued Long Island College Hospital for the baby-switch, claiming that the error caused her “extreme emotional pain, suffering, and anxiety.”

“I wanted to know who this other mother is but they wouldn’t tell me,” Williams said. “I was worried for a very long time that she could have passed a disease to my child.”

A lower court ruled last year that Williams was entitled to a pay-off, but the hospital appealed. Judges last week ruled in favor of the medical center.

“I’m shocked at the ruling,” said Williams’s lawyer, Lisa Pashkoff, vowing an appeal to the state’s highest court. “The hospital admitted their error and should be held accountable.”

Long Island College Hospital did not return calls before this newspaper’s bedtime.

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