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US fertility doctor must pay $5m damages for using own sperm in IVF

BMJ 2022; 377 doi: (Published 05 April 2022) Cite this as: BMJ 2022;377:o895
  1. Owen Dyer
  1. Montreal

A Florida woman has won $5.25m (£4.0m; €4.8m) in damages from a fertility doctor who fraudulently used his own sperm to impregnate her 45 years ago.

Cheryl Rousseau sued John Boyd Coates III, a Vermont doctor, in 2018 after a home DNA test kit identified him as her daughter’s biological father.

Rousseau signed an artificial insemination contract with Coates in 1977 after discovering that her husband’s vasectomy was irreversible. The doctor told her that he had located a donor who resembled her husband and was a medical student. Later that year she gave birth to a girl.

Her daughter, Barbara, was 40 when she decided to seek information about her genetic background and took tests offered by the websites and 23andme. The results showed that Coates was her biological father.

A federal court jury awarded Rousseau $250 000 in compensatory damages and $5m in punitive damages. “The jury through its punitive damages …

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