Georgia Sperm Bank Accused of Lying to Donors
A Georgia couple has accused an Atlanta sperm bank of lying about its donors. The lawsuit, which was dismissed in the early stages because of a Georgia ban on “wrongful birth” lawsuits, made it all the way to the Georgia Supreme Court, where the couple’s dismissal was overturned. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at how an interesting law plays out in the court system.
Wendy and Janet Norman went to Xytex Sperm Bank because they wanted to have a child together. The sperm bank told them that the individual they had selected (Donor #9623) was a Ph.D. candidate with a clean mental health history and a clean criminal record. They told him the man’s IQ was 160.
Wendy Norman gave birth in 2002. Years later, the son they had brought into the world developed severe signs of physical and mental illness and had to be hospitalized several times. They came to find out that Donor #9623 had a felony record, no college degree, and a history of mental health issues. They filed suit against the company alleging, among other things, false advertising, fraud, and unjust enrichment.
The lawsuit was dismissed by the district court and then dismissed again by an appeals court stating that pursuing damages, in this case, violated Georgia’s wrongful birth state which makes it illegal to recover damages for “wrongful birth”. While the couple attempted to prove their case on the grounds of illegal and deceptive advertising, their efforts were rebuffed until the Georgia Supreme Court overturned part of the ruling and allowed their case to move forward. It is now likely headed to arbitration.
What is “Wrongful Birth”?
Wrongful birth lawsuits are almost always filed against doctors. A plaintiff alleges that their doctor failed to warn them about the congenital risks of serious disability while the baby is in utero. You can understand why a state like Georgia, which is heavily pro-life, would not be comfortable with such lawsuits. But the same law that shields doctors from liability in these matters also has been applied to sperm banks who fraudulently misrepresent their donors. This has allowed Georgia sperm banks to lie to customers without consequence.
Xytex, the same company being sued by the Normans, was also sued by a Texas couple who claimed that they were told their donor was a neurosurgeon, but he was reportedly not well-educated and had a felony record.
The State of Georgia considers “wrongful birth” an illegal tort. The law states that no life brought into the world should ever be compared against oblivion. In other words, there is no way to compensate someone for bringing a child into the world when the only other choice is death. However, the law specifically excludes certain damages and these damages do not provide broadscale immunity to fraudulent business practices.
Talk to a St. Petersburg Medical Malpractice Attorney
If you’ve been injured by the negligent practice of medicine, call the St. Petersburg medical malpractice attorneys at Masterson, Hoag & Smith to learn more about how we can help you recover damages related to ongoing medical care, lost wages, and reduced quality of life.