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News from Attorney Carlos Gamino
Mother of Two Settles Lawsuit With Sperm Bank
By Carlos Gamino
Danielle Rizzo, an Illinois mom of two, settled a $250,000 lawsuit with Idant, a sperm bank, and its parent company, Daxor. Rizzo filed the lawsuit because her two children have autism – and she alleged that the man whose sperm she used to become pregnant was not an “appropriate candidate for sperm donation.”
When Rizzo chose the sperm, which came from Donor H898 through Idant Laboratories, she did so because of his looks, health report, education level and hobbies. She purchased several vials of sperm for around $500, and conceived her first child through in vitro fertilization. The baby was born in September of 2011, and soon after, she and her partner decided to have another child – using the same donor’s sperm.
When the second son was born, Rizzo says that she and her wife began to notice “unusual behaviors” in her first son. He’d stopped looking them in the eye, no longer responded to his name, and wouldn’t interact with other kids. Then, around age 2, her second son began doing the same.
Both boys were diagnosed with autism.
Rizzo began connecting with other parents on Facebook and Yahoo groups for “donor siblings,” and they were generally surprised to learn that many of their children had the same developmental challenges and autism diagnoses. Through testing with Ancestry.com and 23andMe, the mothers determined that the man whose DNA their children shared had donated to at least four sperm banks.
She filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in July 2017. Rizzo says she found out through the donor’s family and publicly available documents that the man had lied extensively on his profiles. In the lawsuit, she said Donor H898 had no college degree, was diagnosed with ADHD and went to a school “for children with learning and emotional disabilities.”
Idant’s attorneys called Rizzo’s accusations “inflammatory, specious and dangerous,” but still, the company settled the suit for $250,000 on March 14, 2019.
“If I knew then what I know now, I don’t know if I would have ever used a sperm bank,” Rizzo said.
What Do You Think?
Did you follow this case as it was happening? Do you think the boys’ mother was right to sue, or should she have just let it go? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, so please share your opinion on my on my Facebook page or Twitter.