BERLIN — A response has been filed against a motion asking for a DNA sample from a gynecologist accused of using his own sperm to get a woman pregnant in the 1970s.
Cheryl and Peter Rousseau, now of Florida, filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Burlington on Dec. 4. It states they 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 and was 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 the doctor ended up using his own sperm to get Cheryl Rousseau pregnant.
The hospital is also a defendant in the lawsuit. Coates has denied he’s the woman’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. O’Neill 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 family was shocked when they learned Coates used his own sperm to impregnate Cheryl Rousseau, according to O’Neill.
The Rousseaus are suing Coates and the hospital for medical negligence, failure to obtain informed consent, fraud, battery, negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress, breach of contract, consumer protection act violation and negligent supervision. They are seeking over $75,000 in damages.
Several motions have been filed in the case. The latest, filed last month, has the Rousseaus calling on the court to compel Coates to provide a DNA sample. Peter Joslin, the attorney representing Coates, filed a response Thursday opposing that motion.
Joslin has also filed a motion to dismiss the case, as has the hospital. He wrote in that motion to dismiss the issue of parentage should be handled by the state family court, not a federal civil court. That motion, along with every other motion filed in the case, has not yet been ruled on.
“Further, to permit genetic testing to proceed, prior to resolution of the jurisdictional question, would deny Defendant access to the procedural safeguards that litigation in state family court would afford him,” Joslin wrote.
He wrote in his motion to dismiss state law does not allow for genetic testing to be done on a sperm donor, which is what the Rousseaus are alleging Coates behaved as.
The Rousseaus have also filed a motion to continue with discovery, because they say the hospital and Coates are delaying until after the judge rules on the motions to dismiss.