Court: Florida Girl Can Sue Mother

.c The Associated Press

MIAMI (AP) - A 7-year-old girl who was permanently injured in a car accident while still a fetus can sue her mother for negligence, a Florida appeals court ruled Wednesday.

Barbara Goodman has been fighting for her daughter Kara's right to sue her for severe injuries suffered in a traffic accident in 1994, the day before Kara was born two-months premature.

If her daughter wins the suit, Goodman's insurer, National Casualty, would have to pay for Kara's care.

The company had countersued to have the case thrown out as legally unjustified, but a three-judge panel of the 3rd District Court of Appeal agreed Wednesday with a lower court's ruling that Kara can sue her mother.

``We've been dealing with a situation where an insurance company has been trying to weasel out of paying for policies for which a premium had been paid for, and that certainly is not just,'' Goodman said.

Robert Glazier, National Casualty's attorney, said the case presents the difficult question of what duty a pregnant woman has toward her fetus.

``We believe that this is a mistake and the courts should not interfere in the relationship between a mother and her fetus,'' Glazier said. He said he plans to ask for a rehearing or review by the Florida Supreme Court.

Only two other states have approved similar lawsuits. The Illinois Supreme Court rejected the concept in 1998, saying it would make mother and child legal adversaries from the moment of conception.

Loretta Waters, spokeswoman for the Insurance Information Institute, an industry trade group, said the case was unusual but the ruling was ``not a shocking opinion.'' She said she didn't expect the case to have much effect on the industry.

AP-NY-12-19-01 2311EST