An Ohio woman has sued a sperm bank that mistakenly gave her sperm from an African-American donor.
Plaintiff Jennifer Cramblett, who is white, gave birth to her mixed-race daughter Payton three years ago. In her lawsuit (PDF), she says that the sperm bank’s mixup led to “an unplanned transracial parent-child relationship for which she was not, and is not, prepared.”
Cramblett was artificially inseminated with sperm she ordered from Illinois-based Midwest Sperm Bank, meant to be from Donor No. 380, a Caucasian man. Five months into her pregnancy, she found out that she had actually been sent a sample from Donor No. 330, an African-American male.
“On August 21, 2012, Jennifer gave birth to Payton, a beautiful, obviously mixed race, baby girl,” the lawsuit states.
The sperm bank apologized and gave Cramblett a refund for six vials of sperm, but that’s it. Cramblett’s lawsuit says that she should be compensated for her “current and upcoming challenges with transracial parenting.”
Cramblett says she’s consulted with a sociologist and a social worker, both of whom agree that “she and Payton will require long-term individual and family counseling as well as a change of domicile to a place that is more racially and culturally diverse.”
“She’s going to need some transracial parenting skills that she wouldn’t have needed but for this error, which she’s now faced with and she accepts, frankly,” Cramblett’s lawyer told the National Law Journal, which reported the case on Friday.
Cramblett sued the sperm bank last year in Illinois state court. But the judge in that case said she could not proceed as a “wrongful birth” case. “Wrongful birth” lawsuits are meant to address situations where a child is born with congenital or hereditary disorders that would have been detected but weren’t due to negligent or failed medical testing.
The judge threw out her lawsuit but invited Cramblett to re-file on grounds of negligence. Cramblett’s new case was filed Friday in federal court, and it accuses the sperm bank of fraud, breach of contract, and negligence.
When the earlier lawsuit was filed, Cramblett’s attorney, Thomas Intili, told NBC News that his client “did not encounter any African-American people until she entered college. Not all her friends and family members are racially sensitive.”
The 98-percent white town where Cramblett lives, Uniontown, Ohio, is an “intolerant” one, she said. The lawsuit also noted that in order to get her child’s hair cut, Cramblett has to travel to “a black neighborhood, far from where she lives, where she is obviously different in appearance, and not overtly welcome.”
“I am happy that I have a healthy child,” Cramblett said in 2014. “But I’m not going to let them get away with not being held accountable.”