A Florida woman won a $5.25 million federal jury award this week after a doctor used his sperm to impregnate her in 1977.
Cheryl Rousseau and her husband only learned the truth when their now fully grown daughter, who was conceived via artificial insemination, took a DNA test and found that Dr. John Boyd Coates III was her father.
Coates, now 80 and retired, must cough up $250,000 in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive costs, according to the Vermont jury’s verdict.
Cheryl and Peter Rousseau, who now reside in Florida, sought a donor because he had had an irreversible vasectomy.
The couple chose Coates to handle their artificial insemination procedure and thought they were getting a medical student as a donor.
Their attorney, Celeste Laramie, said Wednesday that the jury’s verdict was justified.
“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.”
Coates, who initially denied paternity, is facing a similar pending suit from a Colorado woman also accused him of wrongfully inseminating her instead of an approved donor.
Shirley Brown, of Boulder, alleges that Coates claimed her donor was also a medical student before her 1978 procedure.
Like Cheryl Rousseau, Brown only learned of the alleged deceit after her daughter took a DNA test.
“We were surprised and disappointed with the verdict,” defense attorney Peter Joslin said.
With Post wires