For most women in Maricopa, Arizona, childbirth is a temporary — if painful — event that ends in joy. For a woman in another state, childbirth may have marked an involuntary end to her career. The opera singer claims that injuries sustained during labor have made it impossible to perform consistently, and she is filing a medical malpractice suit against the federal government as a result.
The woman’s husband is a former member of the Army, so the woman was treated by and gave birth at an Army hospital. The husband is now a civilian, and the woman is a mezzo-soprano opera singer with a major company in another state. The woman alleges that a nurse’s error during the Feb. 2012 birth of her son has reduced her ability to perform with the company.
According to the suit, the nurse performed an episiotomy during childbirth. The woman alleges that the nurse did not ask permission or inform her of the procedure and claims the incision was not performed properly. According to records, another nurse told the woman that the repair to the incision was unsuccessful.
The woman’s attorney stated in an email that the injury suffered from the botched incision would need to be repaired with a separate surgery. The couple is not moving forward with the surgery until they decide whether they will attempt to have more children. In the meantime, the woman says she can’t work normally as a performer.
According to the suit, the injury causes excess flatulence for the woman. She also experiences bouts of incontinence; both of these are issues during performances. The woman’s attorney stated she was able to perform in a limited run of “Madame Butterfly” in Oct. 2012 but cannot perform regularly.
The suit is seeking damages of $2.5 million. Not all suits against the federal government are allowed, due to something called sovereign immunity. Unless a suit involves a tortious act committed by a federal employee, then it cannot be filed without the government’s permission. In this case, the suit’s claim that the nurse took inappropriate action qualifies it to be filed.
Source: CBS News, “Opera singer sues claiming birth surgery led to career-ending flatulence” No author given, Jan. 23, 2014