A wrongful insemination class action lawsuit alleging an Ottawa fertility doctor used his own sperm to inseminate hundreds of women has grown, according to recent legal news.
According to CBC News, the former fertility doctor, Norman Barwin, was not well known in the province of Quebec. Now, a woman who says she was conceived with Barwin’s sperm is reportedly getting the word out to others in the province.
CBC News reports that the mother of a family from Gatineau, Quebec began to suspect their youngest daughter was one of the children Barwin used his own or the wrong sperm to conceive once they heard about the wrongful insemination last fall. The mother, who has asked to remain anonymous, told reporters that she told her daughter that she had been conceived through artificial insemination after her husband had a vasectomy.
The parents say that their plan was to use a sperm bank; however, after obtaining testing through the class action lawsuit, their daughter discovered that Barwin was her biological father. She is the 16th biological child of Barwin’s to join the wrongful insemination class action lawsuit.
The woman who reportedly became one of the first Quebecers to join the wrongful insemination class action lawsuit told reporters that she feels it is important that others in Quebec know about Barwin and the wrongful insemination class action lawsuit.
“We’re everywhere,” she told CBC reporters. “I was the only one in Gatineau, but I told myself there’s got to be others. Of course it is not right what he did. People like me have the right to know.”
Lead plaintiff Rebecca Dixon launched the proposed class action lawsuit in 2016. The complaint alleges that Norman Barwin, while working as a fertility doctor at the Ottawa Hospital and Broadview Fertility Clinic, used the wrong sperm, including his own, in in-vitro fertilization and intrauterine insemination procedures.
Regarding potential Class Members in Quebec, Rebecca told reporters that she too suspects that the message has not been as widely communicated in that province.
“There haven’t been as many stories in the Quebec media or in French, so I think there are people who haven’t heard about this yet,” Rebecca said in a Radio-Canada interview.
Both Rebecca and the woman in Quebec who says that a paternity test showed that Barwin is her biological father told CBC News that they believe they have many more half-siblings out there.
“I expect that maybe in 20 years someone will take a DNA test on Ancestry or 23andMe and we will find others,” Rebecca told reporters.
CBC News reports that there are currently 192 plaintiffs in the proposed wrongful insemination class action lawsuit. Seventy-five say that they were conceived with the incorrect sperm and 16 say that Barwin used his own sperm in the insemination process.
For a time, Barwin was renowned for his success in women’s fertility, earning the Order of Canada in 1997 for his work. However, in 2010, a pair of families launched lawsuits against the doctor claiming he used the wrong sperm in their procedures.
In addition, Barwin faced mounting reports of irregularities and violations from Health Canada. CBC News reports that Barwin lost his medical license in 2013.
The wrongful insemination class action lawsuit alleges that the plaintiff and proposed Class Members did not consent to the use of the wrong sperm in their procedures. The complaint accuses the former doctor of negligence, breach of contract, and medical battery.
Several sets of Class Members are proposed, including patients who received artificial insemination services by Dr. Barwin and those who were artificially inseminated with material entrusted to or stored with Dr. Barwin. The class action lawsuit also seeks to represent spouses and partners of those who were inseminated by Dr. Barwin or entrusted their sperm to Barwin for use in artificial insemination. The wrongful insemination class action lawsuit also proposes to represent individuals who were conceived as a result of a procedure performed by Dr. Barwin or with the use of sperm entrusted to him.
The plaintiff and proposed Class Members are seeking damages. In addition, Rebecca told reporters that they also seek answers about who they are and about their genetic makeup.
“It’s important to know your identity — your genes — to really know where you come from,” the Class Member from Quebec told reporters.
Are you concerned that you or your child may have been conceived using the wrong sperm by Dr. Norman Barwin? Tell us your story in the comment section below!
The plaintiffs are represented by Peter J.E. Cronyn, Frances Shapiro Munn, and Jessica Fullerton of Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP.
The Wrongful Insemination Class Action Lawsuit is Dixon, et al. v. Dr. Norman Barwin, Case No. I6-70454CP, in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Canada.
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