In 1928, Roy E. Hardesty won an award of $5,000 for the death of his wife, Arretta. At the age of 31, she had sought an illegal abortion and died on Christmas Eve, 1924 as a result, leaving her husband to raise their three children.

Prior to the fatal abortion, Arretta had been in good health.

Arretta paid a physician, John T. Martin, $10 for the abortion, which was performed surgically. After returning home, Arretta expelled the dead fetus and took ill. The surgeon came to her home to provide follow-up care, but within 48 hours, Arretta was dead.

Mr. Hardesty asserted that Martin failed to wash his hands and sterilize his instruments, and that this sloppy practice is what had caused his wife's death.