Hundreds of victims of a former Canadian fertility doctor, who allegedly used the wrong sperm and sometimes his own while artificially inseminating patients, will be awarded $10.7 million in a tentative agreement reached this week, according to reports.
The class-action lawsuit was brought in 2016 by Dan and Davina Dixon and later joined by 226 people who found through DNA tests that their child’s biological father was not who they thought, according to the Ottawa Citizen.
Dr. Norman Barwin, 82, was allegedly found to be the father of at least 17 children conceived at his office, including the Dixons’ daughter Rebecca.
Barwin has denied the charges and admitted no wrongdoing in the settlement, according to the Washington Post.
He said he decided to settle because of the time and money spent on the lawsuit, the newspaper reported.
The settlement has yet to be approved by a judge.
The Dixons sued Barwin after they allegedly discovered that their daughter, conceived in 1990 while Davina Dixon was under Barwin’s care, was actually Barwin’s child, according to the Post.
Davina Dixon told CBC Radio in 2016 there were multiple “clues” about Rebecca’s paternity, including that she had celiac disease, which is often hereditary and she had brown eyes while both of her parents’ were blue.
“When I first found out, I felt disassociated from my body and my face,” Rebecca told the CBC in 2016. “When I’d look in the mirror, I felt like suddenly it wasn’t my face. Features about myself that I’d always liked, or just thought of as my own seemed like they might belong to someone else, and I didn’t know who that was.”
Rebecca called the settlement Wednesday an “imperfect solution. I think it is challenging that money is the only thing that is offered and not a direct admission of responsibility from Barwin.”
“I am not sure we will ever achieve closure,” she said, according to the Citizen. “It is something that will be with us for the rest of our lives. But the legal side wrapping up will allow people to come to a bit more peace with the situation.”
Lyon Palmer, the father of Kat Palmer, who is also allegedly Barwin’s biological daughter, said Barwin told him “that he used his own sperm to test out a sperm counter,” according to the CBC. “That made no sense.”
The case is the first of its kind, according to the Citizen.
Peter Cronyn, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said Wednesday that no amount of money could fix the “profound disruption of their sense of family and identity” caused by Barwin’s alleged actions, but “because of the fact that they are receiving some compensation it is our hope that will help them get some closure and move forward,” the Citizen reported.
The settlement would also set up a genetic database to help the victims identify their biological fathers, CBS News reported.