BERLIN — More documents have been filed in a case where a gynecologist is accused of using his own sperm to get a woman pregnant in the 1970s.
Cheryl and Peter Rousseau, now of Florida, filed the lawsuit Dec. 4 in U.S. District Court in Burlington. The lawsuit states the couple decided to partake in artificial insemination in 1977 because they wanted to have a child after Peter Rousseau had a vasectomy.
The lawsuit said Dr. John Boyd Coates III was a practicing gynecologist working out of Central Vermont Hospital, the former name of Central Vermont Medical Center.
The Rousseaus allege Coates agreed to artificially inseminate Cheryl Rousseau using sperm from an unnamed medical student who resembled Peter Rousseau, but ended up using his own sperm.
Coates has denied he’s the daughter’s father.
Barbara Rousseau worked with a geneticist to identify her biological father to learn about her family’s medical history, according to Jerome O’Neill, one of the attorneys representing the Rousseaus. Barbara Rousseau said she used publicly available information from genetic testing databases such as 23andMe.com and Ancestry.com when she discovered her father was Coates, the lawsuit says.
The Rousseaus are suing Coates for medical negligence, failure to obtain informed consent, fraud, battery, negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress and breach of contract. They are seeking more than $75,000 in damages.
Last month Judge William K. Sessions III granted a motion by the Rousseaus seeking a DNA sample from Coates to see if he is the father. He said the Rousseaus pointed out the services the daughter used for DNA matching are open to “a variety of attacks” on reliability, such as chain of custody and error rates. And because this suit focuses on whether Coates is the father of the daughter or not, Judge Sessions said there is good cause for more testing.
Peter Joslin, the attorney representing Coates, has filed a motion asking the judge to reconsider. Joslin also filed a motion Monday asking for the raw data of the DNA test if it does take place.
“It is intuitively obvious that, to have a good faith basis for contesting the genetic testing results, Defendant will need to possess the information and data upon which the testing facility relied in reaching its conclusions,” Joslin wrote.
He also asked the court to make the DNA records, including the results, exempt from public records for Coates’ confidentiality, which goes beyond what the Vermont Parentage Act calls for. The VPA has been cited in the case multiple times because Joslin has argued the issue of if Coates is the father should be handled in state family court.
Celeste Laramie, another attorney representing the Rousseaus, said in her filing Monday the lab the couple plans to use for the DNA sample is nationally recognized and meets the level of accreditation needed in the case.
Laramie noted the VPA, which Joslin has been relying on, has safeguards in place for confidentiality.
“While Defendant Coates at once elevated the VPA as the authority on DNA testing, he now seeks to minimize it and its requirements. He cannot have it both ways,” Laramie wrote.