Sperm Banks Can Now Be Sued for ‘Product Liability’

Staff Writer, April 16, 2009

A federal judge has just ruled that a sperm bank can actually be sued for product liability if it fails to find out that a donor has a genetic defect. A thirteen-year-old girl from Pennsylvania, who is mentally handicapped, is suing the sperm bank in New York, where her mother purchased sperm with a defect, known as “Fragile X.” This mutation is known to cause many different mental and behavioral disorders in offspring.

The girl’s mother had first attempted to sue the bank, but the judge dismissed her claims, because the statute of limitations had expired. The woman had received the sperm donation in 1995, and genetic tests had shown in 1998 that the donor was the source of her daughter’s defect.

However, Pennsylvania’s Minor Tolling Statute allowed the girl to pursue the lawsuit. According to this law, the clock for the statute of limitations does not begin until two years after the minor turns 18. This means that the girl would have had until age 20 to prosecute the sperm bank.

The girl’s mother was promised by the sperm bank that all of its donors went through a rigorous screening process before they were allowed to donate. She had begun to research a year before she received the donation.

 

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