BERLIN — A Florida couple is suing Central Vermont Medical Center and a gynecologist in a case where they say the doctor used his own sperm to get a woman pregnant.
According to the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Burlington earlier this month, Cheryl and Peter Rousseau, now of Florida, married in 1974. They both had children from previous marriages but wanted to have a child of their own.
The lawsuit said Peter Rousseau had a vasectomy and was told reversing the procedure was not medically feasible at the time. So the couple decided to go with artificial insemination.
The suit said Dr. John Boyd Coates III was a practicing gynecologist and was working out of Central Vermont Hospital, the former name of CVMC. The Rousseaus said in the suit Coates agreed to artificially inseminate Cheryl Rousseau. They said Coates agreed to use sperm from an unnamed medical student who resembled Peter Rousseau.
CVMC declined to comment on the case.
Attorney Peter Joslin represents Coates but declined to comment on the case as well saying he is out of the state until Jan. 3. Efforts to reach Coates for comment were unsuccessful.
The procedure was performed in March 1977 at CVMC and in May of that year Cheryl Rousseau discovered she was pregnant, according to court records. She gave birth to a daughter, Barbara Rousseau, in December 1977. The suit said Coates continued to serve as Cheryl Rousseau’s obstetrician and gynecologist for a year after the daughter was born.
Jerome O’Neill is one of the attorneys representing the Rousseaus. He said Barbara Rousseau had been working with a geneticist to find out who her biological father was so that she would know her family’s medical history. He said she used publicly available information from genetic testing databases such as 23andMe.com and Ancestry.com when she discovered her father was Coates.
He said the family was shocked when they found out Coates had used his own sperm to impregnate Cheryl Rousseau.
“Defendant Dr. Coates knew that the child born as Barbara Mary Frances Rousseau was his biological daughter but chose to never disclose this fact to Plaintiffs nor to Barbara Mary Frances,” the suit said.
The Rousseaus are suing for medical negligence, failure to obtain informed consent, fraud, battery, negligent infliction of emotional distress, intentional inflection of emotional distress, breach of contract, consumer protection act violation and negligent supervision. They are seeking more than $75,000 in damages.