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Colorado fertility doctor who used own sperm responds to lawsuit

3 February 2020
Appeared in BioNews 1033

At least six women and their families are suing a doctor who used his own sperm in their fertility treatment for negligence and fraud. 

Dr Paul Jones, who is now 80 years old, does not deny that he used his own sperm in their treatment. Rather, he maintains that the claimants have no grounds for complaint, having requested and received an anonymous donation. 

In court papers responding to the lawsuits, Dr Jones' lawyers said 'all mothers asked for anonymous donation, and all mothers received anonymous donation.'

Dr Jones' lawyers also maintain that there was no negligence, given that there were 'no facts regarding how Jones failed to use a professional degree of care, skill, caution, diligence and foresight.' They added 'They [the claimants] admit that they chose ignorance of the facts they now allege were concealed.'

The lawyer representing the families, Patrick Fitz-Gerald, argued that anonymity should work both ways and that the donation cannot have been anonymous given that the donor knew the identity of the recipients. 

He told the Daily Sentinel 'Jones knew these were his children and, in some cases, even treated them.'   

The issue of timing has also been raised, with Dr Jones' lawyers claiming that the statute of limitations imposes a two-year limit in relation to this type of claim. 

According to the Daily Mail, his lawyers said that in order to preserve their claim 'Mothers could have pursued the identity of their children's natural father, had they wanted the information' up to two years after the birth. 

The women, who were treated between 1975 and 1989, made the discovery recently through DNA testing. Because of this, Fitz-Gerald argues the statute of limitations should run from the time Dr Jones' actions were exposed.  

The families are also suing the clinic where the treatment took place: Women's Health Care of Western Colorado. The clinic has responded that since the identity of Dr Jones remained unknown for over 20 years, he is technically 'anonymous', according to the dictionary definition of the word.

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