American Journal of Law & Medicine

Third Circuit bars wrongful life claims involving genetically defective sperm donation - D.D. v. Idant Laboratories.

Third Circuit Bars Wrongful Life Claims Involving Genetically Defective Sperm Donation--D.D. v. Idant Laboratories (1)--The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed the District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania's decision to dismiss various tort and contract claims involving genetically defective sperm alleged by plaintiff Donna Donovan ("Donovan") on behalf of herself and her daughter, Brittany. The district court denied Donovan's claims as time-barred under Pennsylvania's statute of limitations and denied Brittany's claims for failure to state a claim under New York law. (2,3)

The original action against Idant Laboratories arose from its allegedly negligent failure to recognize one of its semen donors' detectable Fragile X Syndrome. (4) Relying on Idant's representations as to the exceptional safety of its semen and the rigor of its donor screening process, Donovan selected Donor G738's semen for artificial insemination. According to Donovan's allegations, Idant informed her that Donor G738's tests "did not indicate that he had any genetic defects or a history of mental retardation." (5) Donovan successfully inseminated Donor G738's semen and gave birth to Brittany in 1996. Soon afterwards, Donovan confirmed Brittany's abnormal and delayed development. Subsequent evaluations in 1997 and 1998 by various hospitals, laboratories, and physicians established Brittany and Donor G738 as Fragile X carriers. Donovan does not carry Fragile X.

Donovan alleged that Idant failed to recognize Donor G738's Fragile X symptoms and that, as a result, Brittany suffers from a variety of physical, social, and emotional difficulties. (6) Donovan brought a number of claims on behalf of herself and Brittany. (7) Idant moved to dismiss all claims based on the statute of limitations for torts and contracts and a failure to state a claim. (8) The district court agreed and granted Idant's motion. (9,10) After considering the two primary issues, whether the Pennsylvania statute of limitations barred Donovan's claims and whether infants can bring wrongful life claims, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed. …

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