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Thursday, June 6, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Do You Know Where |Your Sperm Is?

Pattern recognition is the source of most of our knowledge and innovation, so I'm always on the lookout for patterns.

Early last week, Courthouse News reported on a fascinating lawsuit filed in Texas on behalf of an apparently-surprised fellow against a fertility clinic for causing him to be the father of twins.

At almost the same time, an outfit called DNA Diagnostic Center - "The most trusted name in DNA testing" - issued a press release noting that "about 1 out of every 3 tested alleged fathers is found to not be the biological father of a child."

If you'd only seen the press release, you would have missed the pattern. You might have thought there are a lot of women are sleeping around. You might have thought there was a lot of uncertainty about parenting going around.

More from the release: " 'As one of the leading companies in DNA testing, we're seeing an increase in calls by men seeking paternity answers, especially for cases where there are disputes or where chain of custody is important,' said Dr. Michael Baird, chief science officer for DDC."

Let me highlight the key phrase there: chain of custody.

Turn your attention now to the Texas lawsuit in which the plaintiff claimed that one day he found a receipt for preservation of a sperm sample from a lab he'd never visited. When he investigated, he was told that a woman, who claimed to be his wife but wasn't, brought the sample in and had herself fertilized with it.

The result was the birth of twins and the plaintiff "suffered severe mental anguish and incurred economic harm due to substantial child support payments."

I assume that means he was one of the two out of three who did pass the biological father test.

The unexpected pattern? Combine the Texas story with the increase in calls for tests and the importance of chain of custody.

Sperm theft is on the rise. Be careful where you leave your sperm.

One last note - there is a bit of mystery surrounding the Texas complaint. No, it's not the method of sperm collection. I've spent hours this past week coming up with scenarios for that. Try it - it's an enjoyable pastime.

No, the real mystery is why would the thief leave a receipt where the victim could find it?

There may be another phenomenon here: drunken sperm donation.

Sometimes you don't remember where you've been the night before.

MULTIPLE PERSONALITY. Here's an interesting philosophical question: can you eavesdrop on yourself?

Before you say no, check out a California appellate ruling called Kight v. CashCall, Inc. in which we learn that a trial court found that when a supervisor secretly monitored a call between a customer and a CashCall employee, it wasn't eavesdropping.

Why not?

Because "there were only two parties to the alleged monitored conversations - the corporation and the customer."

The supervisor and the employee are both the corporation - which is a person - and a person can't eavesdrop in him or herself.

(Aside: is a corporation a he or a she? Is it polite to ask?)

The appellate court didn't buy this reasoning but, if you haven't read the opinion, I'm guessing you won't come up with the appellate reasoning.

Here it is: "(S)ection 632 uses a different statutory term, 'parties' (rather than 'persons'), to identify the individuals who are the conversation participants.... This difference supports the view that for purposes of determining who must give consent, the corporation is not a single unit...."

The eavesdropper was another party but not another person.

Which I think means that if you go to work for a corporation, you are no longer a person but you're still a party.

I love this stuff.

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