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Updated at 10:26 pm on 9 May 2012
Legal battles may not be over for a woman New Zealand's highest court has ruled should get compensation after she became pregnant following a sterilisation operation.
The case has been before the courts for some time and on Wednesday the Supreme Court released its groundbreaking decision.
In 2004, the woman had a tubal ligation, but gave birth the following year.
She then laid a $500,000 damages claim in the High Court against surgeon Keith Allenby, who had operated on her, and his employer the Counties Manukau District Health Board.
However, the doctor's lawyers said the woman should be covered under the Accident Compensation Corporation's scheme for personal injury caused by medical misadventure.
In June last year, the Court of Appeal upheld earlier judgements which ruled that the pregnancy was not a personal injury.
At a Supreme Court hearing in February this year, the Crown argued that ACC amendments in 1992 prevented cover for women who fall pregnant after sterilisation.
In the decision on Wednesday, the Supreme Court found those amendments did not rule out cover being available for those who became pregnant as a result of medical misadventure.
The woman's lawyer, John Miller, says the decision means ACC will cover costs she incurred during her pregnancy, including loss of income.
However, Mr Miller says it is not clear whether the cover will extend to the cost of raising the child. If it does not, fresh legal action may be necessary.
Dr Allenby's lawyer Harry Waalkens, QC, says the ruling ensures that those who fall pregnant after sterilisation are covered in the same way as other medical misadventures.
Mr Waalkens says he understands there are about eight cases a year of women falling pregnant after sterilisation.
ACC says it will not comment on the decision until it has had time to carefully evaluate it.
Copyright © 2012, Radio New Zealand
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