There is a fascinating case out of Illinois where DuPage County judge Ronald Sutter has tossed out a lawsuit by Jennifer Cramblett, who sued after a sperm bank mistakenly impregnated her with sperm from an African-American rather than the white donor she selected. The result was a mixed-race baby. The response from the sperm bank was astonishing. They apologized and reportedly refunded only part of the cost to Cramblett and her partner Amanda Zinkon.
Cramblett alleges that the couple chose sperm from donor No. 380, a white man, but they were given sperm from donor No. 330, a black man. An employee simply misread the numbers. After the birth of Payton, the couple wanted to plan a second child and called the sperm bank to ask for another impregnation with the sperm of donor 380. The receptionist asked if she meant that she wanted sperm from No. 330 and asked to confirm that she wanted sperm from an African American. The error then became obvious to both her and the employee.
Cramblett is not saying that they do not love Payton, now 3, who is obviously a beautiful child. However, they insist that the sperm bank violated their agreement, impregnated her with sperm that she did not consent to, and imposed a burden on her and her family. They live in a predominantly white area of Uniontown, Ohio, and she says that there is a feeling of Payton being an “outcast” and that even haircuts are an added burden.
The mistake appears to be due to the use of paper records that allowed the misreading of the numbers — something that sounds remarkably casual and negligent.
Judge Sutter however threw out the lawsuit as lacking legal merit. The sperm bank lawyers prevailed in arguing that the only successful “wrongful birth” cases tend to be babies with severe birth defects. Sutter also rejected the claim of “breach of warranty.” In Sutter’s favor, I was surprised by the limited grounds of the complaint — particularly the absence of the obvious negligence claim. The case can be refiled with a negligence claim. It would seem that negligence is rather obvious. The question will be right to or level of injury or damages. The baby is healthy and the impregnation obviously was successful. What remains is highly controversial in treating a mixed race baby as an injury. Yet, this couple was offered and agree to impregnation with a specific man’s sperm. That raises an array of tort and contract claims that could be made. In the end, however, you are left with the notion of a baby being an injury due to its race.
She sought at least $50,000 in damages.
What do you think? Should a mother be able to recover damages for having a mixed race baby?
Source: Washington Post