Woman impregnated by doctor’s sperm instead of donor’s wins $5million


A Florida woman who accused her doctor of using his own sperm to inseminate her instead of a donor’s has received over $5 million in damages (Picture: Getty Images)

A Florida woman who accused a Vermont doctor of impregnating her with his own sperm instead of a donor’s in 1977 was awarded $5.25 million by a federal judge on Wednesday.

Cheryl Rousseau was awarded $250,000 in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages in the case against Dr John Coates III, who allegedly inseminated her with his sperm without her consent.

Cheryl’s attorney, Celeste Laramie, told the Associated Press in an email that the jury awarded Cheryl the amount they had requested, and that the jurors found Coates’ behavior to be ‘wrongful and offensive.’

‘The jury through its punitive damages verdict sent a message to any physicians who might think about lying to their patients or using their own semen to inseminate their patients,’ she said. ‘Such behavior will have serious consequences.’

The couple wanted a child, but Peter had undergone a vasectomy that could not be reversed. They found a donor who was a medical student that resembled Peter and ‘met specific characteristics’ Cheryl required, the lawsuit said.

The sperm donation had gone off without a hitch, the couple had thought. Until in 2018 when their child, now an adult, received a DNA test and found out Coates was her biological father.

That same year Cheryl and her husband, Peter Rousseau, sued Coates, accusing him of using his own sperm during an artificial insemination procedure in March 1977 at a hospital in Berlin, Vermont, the complaint says.

Coates had testified under oath during his 2019 deposition that he was not the father, and had never used his own sperm in any insemination procedures. But once the DNA confirmed he was the genetic father of Cheryl’s child, he admitted to having used his own sperm.

‘We were surprised and disappointed with the verdict,’ Coates’ attorney Peter Joslin said.

Cheryl’s husband, Peter, was initially a party to the lawsuit, but the judge ultimately found that he had failed to prove he had suffered damages. His claims did not go to the jury for consideration.

The federal court jury in Burlington, Vermont began deliberating on Tuesday and came to their verdict Wednesday.

The jury found that Coates failed to disclose that he planned to use his genetic material before the procedure, ultimately causing Cheryl harm, breached a contract and inflicted damages upon her, according to the verdict.

Last month, the Vermont Medical Practice Board permanently revoked Coates’ medical license.

Coates, who practices obstetrics and gynecology in the central Vermont area in the 1970s, is now retired.

He also faces a second, similar lawsuit that was filed last year. That suit remains pending in the US District Court in Vermont.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected].

For more stories like this, check our news page.

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