A man from Louisiana is attempting to sue a fertility clinic after accusing his ex-girlfriend of stealing his stored gametes. Layne Hardin has alleged that former partner Tobie Devall 'bluffed' her way into obtaining two vials of his sperm, which she was inseminated with.
Hardin and a previous partner from over ten years ago, Katherine LeBlanc, had originally decided to store some of his sperm before he was due to undergo a vasectomy. They already had a son together and though Hardin was due to be sterilised after the birth, they decided to store eight samples of his gametes at a Houston fertility clinic before his operation should they want to conceive another child in the future.
The Houston clinic had a contract in place with Hardin and LeBlanc, which in the event of their separation instructed that LeBlanc would be given control of the gametes to use at her discretion, the lawsuit claims.
The couple ended their relationship in 2006 and Hardin began to date Tobie Devall, the lawsuit continues. During their time together, the couple visited the same clinic for advice on conception, with Devall apparently aware that her partner already had sperm stored there. However, they broke up in 2009.
The lawsuit alleges that without authorisation to do so, Devall used Hardin's gametes to become pregnant and gave birth to a boy in 2010. His contract with the fertility clinic had made the sperm samples available for use only by LeBlanc; and the lawsuit accordingly claims that his contract with the clinic was broken.
Hardin has been established as the biological father of the child. Accordingly, his lawyer states that Devall could claim for child support and possibly part of Hardin's inheritance under the current law. His lawyer, Cade Benson, described the child as 'an innocent victim' and his situation as 'a controversial way to come into being'. He went on to say that the case is 'like a soap opera, but it's real'.
Conversely, Devall's lawyer denies the claims and says Hardin is a 'money grubber' who is pursuing the case for cash from the clinic and Duvall's family, whom he knows to be wealthy. He also states that 'a lot of the allegations in the petition are not factually accurate and have no evidence to back them up'.
As well as seeking damages from the clinic, Texas Andrology Services, and its owner, Obstetrical and Gynecological Associates, for allowing his gametes to be used without his consent, Hardin hopes that his case will bring about a change in the law that would prevent this scenario from recurring, reports the Houston Chronicle. Devall is also named in the lawsuit.
In 2011, a man sued a US fertility clinic for negligence for allowing his ex-girlfriend to gave birth to twins using his sperm, believed to have been obtained from a used condom, without his consent (reported in BioNews 635). The clinic denied the allegations calling the lawsuit 'suspect' and 'disingenuous'.
The doctor responsible for the clinic in the present lawsuit told KHOU 11 News he could not comment on ongoing litigation.
The trial is due to begin in April.