A white woman who sued after she was accidentally impregnated with the sperm of an African American man will be forced to refile the lawsuit after an Illinois judge tossed out her claim against the sperm bank.
Jennifer Cramblett filed suit against Midwest Sperm Bank in 2014 because she was artificially inseminated with sperm from the wrong donor and gave birth to a mixed-race daughter.
The sperm bank apologized and refunded part of the cost to Cramblett and her partner Amanda Zinkon. But Cramblett’s suit alleged that the mistake caused her and her family stress, pain, suffering and medical expenses. And, the suit said, in Cramblett’s predominantly white community, she feared that her daughter, Payton, now 3, would grow up feeling like an “outcast.”
But DuPage County judge Ronald Sutter threw out the lawsuit Thursday, agreeing with attorneys for the sperm bank who argued that it lacked legal merit, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Attorneys for the sperm bank had argued that “wrongful birth” suits typically apply to cases where the child is born with a birth defect that doctors should have warned parents about; in this case, the child was healthy. Cramblett had also sought damages for a “breach of warranty.” The judge rejected both claims but said that Cramblett could refile the suit as a “negligence claim,” the Tribune reported.
At the heart of the lawsuit was Cramblett’s claim that she was unprepared to raise an African American child and that her community and her “unconsciously insensitive” family members might not be accepting of a child of a different race.
“Getting a young daughter’s hair cut is not particularly stressful for most mothers, but to Jennifer it is not a routine matter, because Payton has hair typical of an African American girl,” the lawsuit said. “To get a decent cut, Jennifer must travel to a black neighborhood, far from where she lives, where she is obviously different in appearance, and not overtly welcome.”
According to the suit, the couple chose sperm from donor No. 380, a white man; instead, they were given sperm from donor No. 330, a black man. They blame a paper records system that allegedly caused an employee to misread the numbers.
“Jennifer’s stress and anxiety intensify when she envisions Payton entering an all-white school,” the lawsuit says. “Ironically, Jennifer and Amanda moved to Uniontown from racially diverse Akron, because the schools were better and to be closer to family.”
“Jennifer is well aware of the child psychology research and literature correlating intolerance and racism with reduced academic and psychological well-being of bi-racial children.”
She sought at least $50,000 in damages.