Thursday, April 2, 2009

Federal court interprets New York law to allow product liability case for sale of defective sperm is reporting that a federal judge has ruled that a sperm bank may be sued under product liability laws for failing to detect that a sperm donor had a genetic defect.
A significant issue in the case was whether the court should apply Pennsylvania or New York law. For a case involving sperm, the differences between Pennsylvania and New York tort law are significant. While Pennsylvania bans products liability suits stemming from blood, blood products and human tissues (the Restatement approach), New York's statute only mentions blood and blood products.
The plaintiff argued that New York law should apply because New York's interest in regulating its corporations outweighed Pennsylvania's interest in providing redress for wrongs committed against one of its citizens. The defendant argued that Pennsylvania law should apply because the semen was sold in Pennsylvania and the injury took place in Pennsylvania.
The court held for the plaintiff saying that New York had a stronger interest in seeing its laws applied because most of the significant conduct took place in New York (the screening of the sperm donor and the formation of the contract).
On the other hand, the decision dismissed all claims brought by the mother finding that the statute of limitations had expired because genetic tests showed in 1998 that the sperm donor was the source of the Fragile X genetic defect in her daughter. The plaintiff urged the judge to apply the discovery rule and to toll the statute of limitations alleging fraudulent concealment by defendant. But the court found that the mother should never have relied on the defendant's doctors. The mother should have questioned the defendant's statements especially in light of the fact that the daughter had been diagnosed by an independent hospital. The case is called Donovan v. Idant Laboratories. For the full story go here.

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