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Survey Needed to Start a Homebirth Class Action
What Is a Class Action Lawsuit?
Steps in Litigation

Survey Needed to Start
a Homebirth Class Action

Before a class action lawsuit can be filed, it must determined if there is enough factual basis to the contention that families in New York State are being denied their right to a homebirth. This fact finding information is very important for the movement forward toward making homebirth available, whether we move toward future legislative effort or for the lawsuit. We cannot build a case without the facts. This must be done by all of us who are interested in the possibility of this case moving forward. Your consideration and anticipated courtesies are appreciated. Thank you for participating in conducting this survey. Counties especially in need are listed below.
In order to establish what legal homebirth services currently exist in NY, we need to solicit licensed providers [Ob/Gyn; Family Practice Practitioners; C.N.M.]. * From each licensed provider of birth services you must record the following information:

~ Date and time of call (this is very important for validating purposes)
~ Name, Address and Phone number of careprovider
~Name of person to whom you are speaking [this might be the receptionist]

1.) Are you currently attending homebirths?
2.) Have you ever attended homebirths?
3.) If not, then why not?
4.) Who in this area would attend homebirth?

**The following NY counties are in need of surveys:
Allegany
Cattaraugus
Cayuga
Chautauqua
Chemung
Chenango
Cortland
Erie
Genesee
Hamilton
Jefferson
Lewis
Livingston
Madison
Niagara
Oneida
Onondaga
Orleans
Oswego
Rennssalaer
Schuyler
Steuben
Tioga
Warren
Washington
Wayne.
Wyoming
Yates

Please submit surveys A.S.A.P. before the end of September to:

Dawn Konnerth
H.O.M.E.
PO Box 166
Walden, NY 12586
For more information: 914-361-3748
Email: homebirth@pioneeris.net

Update Feb. 22, 1998: A thank you from Dawn to those responsible for sending in surveys from these counties/areas:

Albany
Buffalo
Delaware
Dutchess
Greene
Orange
Otsego
Rockland
Schenectady
Schoharie
Sullivan
Syracuse
Ulster
Westchester
Tioga

What Is a Class Action Lawsuit?

A lawsuit taken on behalf of a whole distinct class of people to redress a significant wrong.

Characteristics of a Class Action:

Commonality of issue amongst class members--that is, that all the class members are affected by the same challenged state action. In this case, the primary class are those individuals who have may or will make the decision about their birthing options with the knowledge that under current situation in NYS, a homebirth attended by a midwife acting within the law is virtually impossible. The [secondary] class is midwives or other care providers who attend or want to attend homebirths.

Typicality--the class representatives' claims are typical of the claims of the class members. The state's actions that cause you injury is typical of the action causing others injury. In this case, several typical claims can be made regarding the Professional Midwifery Practice Act (PMPA). These claims apply to those cases occurring following the enactment of the statute (January 1994) and including those in the future. Some typical claims:

*that the family's decision to have a homebirth would mean that the attendant (midwife) would be operating outside of the law
*that the family's decision to have a homebirth would mean that there would be no medical backup
*that a decision to have a homebirth is/was not possible because there is/was no possibility of having a legal attendant
*that midwives trained in attending homebirths are/were unable to practice homebirth within the law

Predominance--the issue identifies as defining the class sufficiently dominant so as to give the court reason to believe that addressing it will resolve the dispute between the parties. In this case, the importance is that the statue has had/will have a significant chilling affect on the choice of homebirth as a birth option, and that families want or are entitled to this option. In addition, that qualified attendants (midwives) have been barred from practicing homebirths as part of their profession. The redress [correction in the writing/implementation of this statute] will have a significant impact on [numbers of people] and [the choices of all New Yorkers in this class].

Adequacy of the representative--the class will be certified as a class action if and only if , both the named class members and the class attorneys demonstrate capability, and adequate resources and experience to well represent the class.

Steps in Litagation

1. Filing of Complaint which identified classes of aggrieved plaintiffs, designates proposed class representatives, states substantive claims and requests specific remedies.

2. Answer to complaint or motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim.

3. Motion to certify class action - - filed by the plaintiffs

4. Decisions on motions to dismiss (if one is filed) an motion for class certification

5. Discovery - - both parties have a chance to fully develop their cases by requesting information, including sworn statements under oath, form the other.

6. Defendant (state's) motion for summary judgment - - in which state typically claims that plaintiffs can establish no case.

7. If motion is denied in whole or part, Trial on the merits of the claim. (Thanks to Leanna Hoodes for this information)

Last updated Monday, October 19, 1998

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