Friday, 1 July 2016

Families launch court suits for sperm bank fraud

For those followers of my blog, you may recall that on January 18th of this year, I wrote an article about an American sperm bank called Xytex Corp., an Atlanta-based sperm bank in the American state of Georgia.

The reason they sued was because the sperm bank had used the sperm of a man (Donor #96230 who believed that he had an IQ of 160 as suggested by an employee of Xytex, that he had a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree, and was working toward a PhD in neuroscience engineering. He also claimed to have an “impressive’” health history. The bank even sent to the families pictures of the donor when he was a child. Subsequently, thirty-three women became recipients of his sperm and subsequently they gave birth to his 36 children. One family had three of his children.

In 2014, Xytex sent an email accidentally to one of the donor recipients that unintentually described who Donor #9623, really was. Internet research revealed that this man with his bogus credentials is none other than James Christian Aggeles when a Google search was undertaken.

That is when the horrible truth eventually reached the 33 recipient families. They learned that the man was a convicted felon after being previously arrested for burglary, trespassing, driving under the influence and disorderly conduct. He had also been hospitalized while being diagnosed in 2000 with suffering from schizophrenia, possessing a narcissistic personality disorder and is also suffering from a drug-induced psychotic disorder. Further, he has significant grandiose delusions and he also didn’t have the IQ of 160. He told a company representative he thought his IQ was 130 and the employee suggested he was a genius, with an IQ of 160. He also had no degrees considering the fact that he was actually a college dropout. He went to the sperm bank to sell his sperm for the money he needed.

Aggeles filled out a questionnaire but was not asked any follow-up questions. He was given a 10-minute physical examination during which his physical or mental health history was not discussed.

Instead of conducting an actual investigation into the claims made by Aggeles. Xytex promoted Donor #i9623 as one of their best donors. If he was one of their best donors, I hate to fathom what the others were like.

Back in the 1970s, I was a private investigator with a large investigations and security firm and my job was to investigate the backgrounds of prospective employees for some of our clients. I looked into their employment history for the previous five years, their residences where they lived for the same amount of years. With their permission, I got their Credit Bureau reports and obtained info from the police to see if there were any outstanding warrants or if they had been arrested or if they had any convictions. I also checked their school history to see how far they went in school.

The court documents allege that Xytex failed to properly investigate the donor's education claims and his medical history and as such that firm misrepresented him to customers, including suggesting he had the IQ level of a genius when in fact he was no genius at all.

It seems to me that there was a responsibility on the part of Xytex to conduct a thorough investigation of this man and also to get blood and urine samples from him so that they can be tested.  They did none of this and instead Xytex simply accepted his version of his so-called accomplishments etc.

Three of the victims also sued Genesis Fertility Centre Inc. (Xytex’s Canadian distributor) in Vancouver. That firm directed them to Xytex. The B.C. lawsuits come two months after three families in Ontario sued Xytex alleging they had been similarly misled about the status of the same donor.

In another lawsuit, a Vancouver woman identified as C.C., claims her child was born using the same donor and under the same false misrepresentation.

One of the Vancouver couples, identified as A.A. and B.B., decided they wanted to have children after they were married in 2006, but needed a sperm donor. In 2007, the couple say they asked Genesis, which had given them the option of receiving sperm from three companies, one of them Xytex, to obtain three vials from one man, identified only as Donor #9623 since they wanted to have three children. Their first child was born in 2008, and their second and third children were born in 2011, all using sperm from Donor 9623. Because of the false representation, the couple say that their children have a genetic predisposition to schizophrenia and will require careful medical and psychiatric monitoring as they age. According to that couple, one of their children has suffered “significant” mood disorders.

Schizophrenia is a brain disorder characterized by abnormal social behavior and failure to understand reality. Common symptoms include false beliefs, unclear or confused thinking, hearing voices, reduced social engagement and emotional expression, and a lack of motivation. Schizophrenia affects the way a person behaves, thinks, and sees the world. People with schizophrenia often have an altered perception of reality. They may see or hear things that don’t exist, speak in strange or confusing ways, believe that others are trying to harm them, or feel like they’re being constantly watched. This can make it difficult for such sufferers to negotiate the activities of daily life, and people with schizophrenia may withdraw from the outside world or act out in confusion and fear.

Schizophrenia is NOT entirely a genetic disease. The current belief is that there are a number of genes that contribute to susceptibility or pathology of schizophrenia, but none exhibit full responsibility for the disease. It is believed that schizophrenia is much like diabetes, which is caused by a number of genetic and environmental factors. 

In the early phase of this disease, people with schizophrenia often seem eccentric, unmotivated, emotionless, and reclusive. They isolate themselves, start neglecting their appearance, say peculiar things, and show a general indifference to life. They may abandon hobbies and activities, and their performance at work or school deteriorates. There are five types of symptoms characteristic of schizophrenia: delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, disorganized behavior, and the so-called “negative” symptoms. However, the signs and symptoms of schizophrenia vary dramatically from person to person, both in pattern and severity. Not every person with schizophrenia will have all symptoms, and the symptoms of schizophrenia may also change over time.

It has long been known that schizophrenia runs in families. People who have a close relative who suffers from schizophrenia are more likely to develop the disorder than are people who have no relatives with the illness. The children of James Christian Aggeles are at risk of suffering from schizophrenia via the genetic connections between him and them.

A lawyer for Xytex, however, said the company looks forward to "successfully defending itself" and noted that one of the families involved had already filed a similar lawsuit against the company in the U.S. which had been dismissed. It was dismissed on a technicality.

The Port Hope couple—Angela Collins and Margaret Elizabeth Hanson had filed a lawsuit against Xytex, its parent company, sperm bank employees and the donor last year. Their case was dismissed by a judge who said that while the lawsuit claimed fraud, negligence and product liability, it is “rooted in the concept of wrongful birth,” which isn't recognized under Georgia law.

Xytex’s mouthpiece said that his client is an industry leader and complies with all industry standards in how they safely and carefully help provide the gift of children to families who are otherwise unable have them without this assistance. BLAH BLAH BLAH.

The allegations in the lawsuits, which involve families from Port Hope, Ottawa and Haileybury, all  in Ontario have not yet been proven in court.

Are you ready for this? Xytex continued to try and sell Aggeles' sperm even after his arrest history and mental illness came to light, the plaintiff’s statement of claim alleges.

Their statement of claim says the donor, James Christian Aggeles, by his own admission, lied about his mental health history and his education which included a claim about working towards a PhD in neuroscience engineering — when he filled out a Xytex questionnaire, but was never questioned by anyone at Xytex.

Their statement of claim says that “Xytex promoted Aggeles as a man of high integrity who was extremely intelligent and incredibly educated. Of course, it was an outright lie. The families are each seeking millions in damages.

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