Sperm Bank Sued for Misrepresenting Donor Processes

The Georgia Supreme Court revived a 2017 lawsuit by two parents claiming a sperm bank misrepresented its screening process for donors. They claim these misrepresentations ultimately led them to purchase sperm from a donor with hidden mental illness and felony convictions.

Sperm Bank DonationPhoto Credit: Shutterstock

Norman v. Xytex Corp. was initially decided by a Fulton County Judge and the ruling was upheld by the Georgia Court of Appeals. A 1990 Georgia Supreme Court ruling in Atlanta Obstetrics & Gynecology Group v. Abelson served as the precedent used in those cases, as the sperm bank argued that the lawsuit brings claims for wrongful birth”. The court in Abelson barred wrongful birth claims, stating, “we are unwilling to say that life, even life with severe impairments, may ever amount to a legal injury.”

The Normans brought the lawsuit against Xytex, its Atlanta-location medical director, and one employee. The Normans’ suit alleges fraud, negligent misrepresentation, battery, negligence, unfair business practices, false advertising, unjust enrichment, and other wrongdoing.

According to Xytex records, the donor was a Ph.D. candidate with an IQ of 160, a clean mental health history, and no criminal record. The reality starkly contrasted; Donor #9623 had a past that the Norman family strongly feels they should’ve known. That past included several hospitalizations for psychotic schizophrenia and other mental illnesses as well as a burglary conviction. It was also found that he provided fake diplomas and had no degree at the time of donation.

The Normans’ son was conceived with the donor’s sperm and born in 2000. As he grew older, he experienced severe medical and mental health problems, including a blood disorder inherited from the father. He has also been prescribed anti-psychotic medications to assist with his suicidal and homicidal thoughts.

The original ruling correctly states the Normans can’t sue based on the theory that they wouldn’t have purchased the donor’s sperm if Xytex had revealed his true background, the Georgia Supreme Court said. “This is a classic wrongful birth claim.”

The Georgia Supreme Court did decide Abelson does not preclude all of the Normans’ claims. As a result, they can sue based on allegations that their reliance on the sperm bank’s donor information led them to delay seeking out diagnosis and treatment for their son’s conditions.

In the coming months, the Normans must figure out which claims for damages will fit under the high court’s ruling. That determination of which claims survive has been remanded to Georgia’s lower courts. Once that’s decided, it looks probable the Normans have a shot at winning a settlement.

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