SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – A federal judge advanced a same-sex couple’s claims that a sperm bank said a donor was “ultra-intelligent” and good looking when in reality he is a college dropout with several criminal offenses and a history of severe mental illness.
The case is one of at least 13 filed across the nation over Xytex Corporation’s use of Sperm Donor 9623, real name is James Aggeles, whose history of schizophrenia, narcissistic-personality disorder and other mental-health ailments may be inherited by the numerous children created with his sperm.
U.S. District Judge William Alsup allowed a same sex couple’s claims of intentional misrepresentation by to move forward, saying sufficient factual evidence showed the Xytex should have known about Aggeles’ medical and criminal history had they actually engaged in a rigorous screening process as claimed.
“The information regarding Donor 9623’s medical health history, as well as his criminal record could have easily been discovered ‘through publicly accessible, indisputable, medical and professional documents,’ especially in light of Xytex’s proclamation of its ‘intense and arduous’ qualification process that ‘generates’ a lot of medical, psychological, genetic, and social information,’” Alsup wrote in a 14-page order.
The company tried to argue that the couple had no cause for damages, saying the birth of a child does not represent a harm. But Alsup pointed out the couple “does not claim damages due to their child’s life, but rather due to the medical expenses and emotional distress upon discovery of Donor #9623’s medical history.”
Aggeles first visited Xytex in 2000.
At the time, he worked as a waiter and janitor and had been hospitalized on at least two occasions for severe mental illness episodes, including delusions of grandeur. During the ostensibly rigorous qualification process, Aggeles filled out a questionnaire and participated in a 10-minute interview where he claimed he possessed an IQ of 130.
Xytex represented Aggeles as a healthy and intelligent donor. In reality, he was diagnosed with severe schizophrenia in 2002 and put on permanent Social Security due to his disability.
The couple heard about Xytex through a friend in 2004, and quickly contacted a company representative who recommended Donor 9623. The representative told them Aggeles was intelligent and “looked like a model,” according to the initial complaint.
They say they relied on the information when deciding to use the sperm, and subsequently gave birth to a baby girl.
In 2015, the couple read an Associated Press article detailing another couple’s discovery that Donor 9623 is actually a schizophrenic felon who had recently been convicted of residential burglary.
The couple says the emotional distress and the possibility of incurring medical costs relating to schizophrenia, a genetically inherited mental illness, caused them to file their intentional misrepresentation claims.
Xytex argued in its motion to dismiss that the “buyer beware” principal applied in the current case, but the judge disagreed.
“Plaintiffs had no way to conduct due diligence on Donor #9623 whose true identity was hidden from plaintiffs by Xytex,” Alsup wrote. “Only Xytex knew his true identity and was able to conduct any diligence.”
Aggeles’ identity only came to light when two families who both his sperm took a family vacation together and sent a photo album to Xytex, which then forwarded the album to Aggeles – mistakenly cc’ing him on an email visible to the families.
A family in Vancouver performed a cursory internet search on Aggeles and discovered his criminal and mental-illness histories, prompting a spate of lawsuits from various families who had chosen his sperm supposedly on the advice of Xytex.
Alsup considered consolidating the cases but decided against it, meaning each of the cases will be tried separately.
The present case will head to trial, barring a settlement.