No, this case isn’t going to get messy: in 2004, a Long Island couple went to a fertility clinic to help them get pregnant with a biological child. Apparently, the clinic botched the procedure by using the wrong sperm (Oops!); the couple figured it out when they noticed that the child was black and they weren’t.
So they sued the clinic for malpractice and infliction of emotional distress. (Just for good measure, they sued their obstetrician, who had nothing whatsoever to do with the actual fertilization; the court dismissed that claim. Gee, I wonder why medical malpractice insurance rates are so high.) The court rejected the emotional distress claim, ruling that (as most courts do) a baby being born is not an injury to the parents, but it allowed the malpractice claim to proceed.
Speaking of emotional distress, the judge handling the case quoted the parents as saying things every child wants to hear from her parents:
“[W]e are reminded of this terrible mistake each and every time we look at her.”
“We are conscious of and distressed by this mistake each and every time we appear in public.”
I haven’t yet found any quotes saying that it’s not about the money, but I did note these gems:
- “My clients never sought publicity for this case,” their attorney, Howard J. Stern, said in a brief statement. “This is obviously a very sensitive matter. The family would like to maintain what little privacy they have left.” (Newsday)
- “‘We fear that our daughter will be the object of scorn and ridicule by other children, both in school and as she grows up,’ they said.” (Daily News)
- “The family is so distraught that they have not even told many of their relatives about the situation. The Andrews fear the natural father may try to come forward and claim rights to the girl, the suit says.” New York Post
Uh, yeah. Clearly, those were their top concerns.
Obviously (assuming the allegations are true), one can’t even begin to defend the clinic’s incompetence; a lawsuit is legally justified. But if one’s concern is really about privacy, is really about whether their daughter is going to be subject to ridicule, is really about whether the natural father might try to claim the girl, then I’m not sure litigation is the way to go. On the other hand, if one’s primary concern is money…