Ohio woman sues sperm bank after birth of mixed-race baby

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 01, 2014 5:34 PM

By Elizabeth Daley

(Reuters) - A white Ohio woman is suing a sperm bank for mistakenly giving her and her white same-sex partner sperm from an African-American donor, her lawyer said on Wednesday.

Jennifer Cramblett, 36, of rural Uniontown in northeastern Ohio, sued Midwest Sperm Bank in Chicago on Tuesday in Cook County Circuit Court for "wrongful birth and breach of warranty" following the birth of Cramblett's daughter two years ago.

Cramblett said in the lawsuit that although she and her partner love the "beautiful, obviously mixed race" little girl, she is concerned about bringing her up in a white, racially intolerant community in a white "often unconsciously insensitive" family.

Cramblett said in the suit that she has been told by therapists and experts that she must relocate to a racially diverse community.

"The Midwest Sperm Bank made the one mistake that a sperm bank can never make - that's what this is about," said attorney Timothy Misny. "What my client wants is for the sperm bank to change the way they do business."

The Midwest Sperm Bank declined comment.

Cramblett said in the lawsuit that she and her partner wanted a donor with "genetic traits similar to both of them," and picked one after reviewing his history.

The suit said the mistake was made because the sperm center, which keeps records in pen and ink rather than electronically, misread donor numbers. Cramblett discovered the mix-up when she was already pregnant.

When the mistake was confirmed, "In an instant, Jennifer's excitement and anticipation of her pregnancy was replaced with anger, disappointment and fear," the suit said.

The suit said that Cramblett "acknowledges her limited cultural competency relative to African Americans, and steep learning curve." She cited, for example, the stress of having to take her daughter to a black neighborhood to get her hair cut.

Cramblett said her family is already uncomfortable with the fact that she is a lesbian, and that she doesn't want her daughter to feel stigmatized or unrecognized due to the circumstances of her birth.

The suit, which demands more than $50,000 in damages, said that the sperm bank sent Cramblett a letter of apology and a refund check for the vials of incorrect sperm.

(Reporting by Elizabeth Daley in Pittsburgh; Editing by Mary Wisniewski and Sandra Maler)