An individual from Idaho is taking legal action against her former fertility doctor in Seattle, alleging that he used his own sperm without her knowledge to impregnate her 34 years ago. This is one of several similar cases that have emerged as home DNA testing becomes more prevalent and allows individuals to uncover details about their genetic heritage.
Sharon Hayes, a resident of Hauser, Idaho, at the age of 67, filed a lawsuit claiming that she had sought fertility treatment from Dr. David R. Claypool, an obstetrician and gynecologist based in Spokane, Washington, in 1989. This was due to her and her former spouse’s inability to have a child.
According to the lawsuit filed on Wednesday in Spokane County Superior Court, the woman desired an unknown donor and was promised that the donor would be chosen based on her preferred physical characteristics. The donor would also undergo health and genetic screenings. The defendant, Claypool, allegedly charged $100 for each treatment, claiming that the money would go towards compensating college or medical student donors.
Last year, Brianna Hayes, who is 33 years old, discovered the identity of her biological father by using a genetic testing and ancestry website called 23andMe, as she shared with The Associated Press on Thursday.
She expressed that it has been a struggle with her identity. This aspect was kept hidden from her throughout her entire life, causing her to feel traumatized on behalf of her mother. The fact that she is a result of his actions is unsettling to her.
Hayes discovered an additional fact: She had a minimum of 16 other half-siblings living in the same vicinity, according to her statement. It is currently unknown if other women are also seeking legal action against Claypool.
The Associated Press (AP) was unsuccessful in contacting Claypool through the provided phone numbers. Claypool’s attorney, Drew Dalton, refused to give a statement through email, explaining that he had not yet spoken with his client.
According to a report from The Seattle Times, Dalton stated that the lawsuit, which was first reported on Thursday, had been undergoing mediation. However, Claypool denied any knowledge of the accusations and stated that he was unfamiliar with Sharon Hayes. He also shared that he has not been practicing since 2005.
Claypool stated that his previous patients were extremely satisfied, but he had not been informed of any updates in the past 40 years.
As the popularity of online DNA services has increased, there have been numerous instances of “fertility fraud”. In a report by The New York Times last year, it was revealed that over 50 fertility doctors in the United States had been accused of fraudulent practices involving donated sperm. Additionally, a documentary on Netflix highlighted the case of an Indiana fertility specialist who impregnated at least 94 patients without their knowledge.
A jury in Colorado granted a total of $9 million to three families who alleged that a fertility doctor had used his own sperm to impregnate mothers who had asked for anonymous donors.
According to attorney RJ Ermola, the lawsuit filed by Sharon Hayes accuses the defendant of committing fraud, not obtaining proper consent as required by state medical malpractice law, and violating state consumer protection laws. Specifically, Hayes claims that the defendant deceived her by charging her for his own sperm while claiming it was from a donor.
Brianna Hayes mentioned that she has had a positive experience getting acquainted with her half-siblings, but she has not been introduced to Claypool yet. She initially pursued genetic data in hopes of finding answers to her health concerns, specifically her past experience with leukemia as a child – “conditions that are not present in my mother’s family.”
She mentioned that her mother is having a hard time dealing with the news. “She is very upset and feeling guilty for putting me in this position,” she explained. “But I reassured her that it wasn’t her fault. She did everything by the book and was just being a caring mother.”