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Friday, April 12, 2024 | Back issues
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Clinic Could Be Liable for Inseminating Man’s Ex

(CN) - A fertility clinic that helped a woman get pregnant with sperm preserved by her ex-boyfriend must face health care claims from the man and another of his ex's, a Texas appeals court ruled.

Prior to a vasectomy, Layne Hardin had eight vials of his sperm preserved in 2002 at a clinic that is now known as Texas Andrology. The agreement gave Hardin's then-domestic partner, Katherine LeBlanc, authority over the sperm in the event of his death.

Some time after the couple's 2006 breakup, Hardin says he entered into a new domestic partnership with a woman named Tobie Devall. They allegedly discussed getting pregnant and consulted a physician from Obstretical and Gynecological Associates LLC, the parent company of Texas Andrology, in March 2008.

Hardin says he never consented to letting Texas Andrology inseminate Devall with his sperm, and that the couple began seeing other people in early 2009.

Though he and Devall allegedly broke it off on Oct. 20, 2009, Hardin says Devall told him on Nov. 20 that "she was pregnant with his child and that she was inseminated on October 26."

Devall gave birth to Hardin's son in July and has allegedly excluded Hardin from the child's life.

In a 2011 complaint, Hardin and LeBlanc said Texas Andrology had released two vials of Hardin's sperm to Devall without their consent. They alleged breach of contract, negligence, conversion and misrepresentation.

OGA moved to have the case dismissed, claiming that the plaintiffs failed to file an expert report as required by the Texas Medical Liability Act.

A Harris County judge denied the motion, and the Houston-based Court of Appeals for the First District of Texas affirmed on Nov. 15.

"OGA provides no evidence that it is licensed, certified, registered or chartered by the State of Texas to provide healthcare," Justice Harvey Brown wrote for a three-person panel.

"Because OGA failed to prove that it is a healthcare provider for which an expert report is required, we do not address whether the Hardin-LeBlanc claims are healthcare claims," Brown added. "No expert report was required because there was no evidence that OGA is a licensed healthcare provider."

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