A Colorado jury Wednesday awarded $8.75 million to plaintiffs in a civil lawsuit that accused a former fertility doctor of using his own sperm to impregnate at least a dozen women through artificial insemination over more than two decades.
The verdict was awarded to Cheryl Emmons, her husband and two of her daughters, who, according to their attorney Patrick Fitz-Gerald, were surreptitiously fathered by the doctor, Paul B. Jones.
The Emmonses and seven other families filed a lawsuit against Dr. Jones and the clinic where he worked, Women’s Health Care of Western Colorado, for claims of medical negligence, lack of informed consent, fraud, misrepresentation by negligence, breach of contract, battery, and extreme and outrageous conduct, according to the lawsuit.
Five of the families settled for an undisclosed amount before the case went to trial, Mr Fitz-Gerald said. Two other claims against Dr. Jones are still active.
As the Emmonses make more claims against Dr. Jones then filed against the clinic, he is expected to pay a vast majority of the $8.75 million price, Mr Fitz-Gerald said.
The lawyers of Dr. Jones, Nicole Marie Black and Nancy L. Cohen, did not immediately respond to emails or phone calls on Thursday requesting comment. But in 2019, around the time the lawsuit was filed, Dr. Jones told a reporter from KUSA in Denver if he fathered the children named in the lawsuit.
“I don’t deny it; I don’t admit it,” he said at the time.
He gave up his doctor’s license in November 2019, days after the families filed the lawsuit, according to state files.
Ivan Sarkissian, a Western Colorado Women’s Health Care attorney where Dr. Jones was working, didn’t immediately answer emails or phone calls on Thursday.
dr. Jones, Ms. Emmons’ former obstetrician and gynecologist in Grand Junction, Colorado, is believed to have fathered at least 17 children from 12 women from 1975 to 1997, Maia Emmons-Boring, one of Ms. Emmons’ daughters, said Thursday. †
In 1979 and 1984, Dr. Jones by artificial insemination after suggesting that he find a doctor or medical student as her sperm donor, Ms Emmons-Boring said.
He never told the family that he was the one who provided the sperm sample, Ms Emmons-Boring said. dr. Jones, now 83, even helped deliver both Mrs. Emmons-Boring and her sister Tahnee Scott.
Mrs. Emmons-Boring never questioned that the man who raised her was not her father until a series of events that began after she took a DNA test from Ancestry.com.
In 2018, after Mrs. Emmons-Boring took the test, she said she received a message from a woman who believed they were half-siblings. At first she didn’t believe the woman, but then she did some digging.
Her parents first told her that she and her sister had been conceived by artificial insemination. She spent weeks creating a family tree “until he bumped into Dr. Jones,” she said.
She sent five other half-siblings she found online who were “all shocked and disgusted” by the news, said Ms. Emmons-Boring, 41.
A few weeks later, they called Mr. Fitz-Gerald, Driskell, Fitz-Gerald & Ray. Eight families eventually filed a lawsuit against him and the clinic, Mr. Fitz Gerald.
dr. Jones was never charged with a felony related to artificial insemination, according to Daniel P. Rubinstein, the district attorney for the 21st Judicial District Attorney’s Office in Mesa County, Colorado. At the time, Mr. Rubinstein said, it was not a crime in Colorado for a doctor not to disclose the identity of a sperm donor.
After news of Dr. Jones spread throughout Colorado, the state passed a law in 2020 that made it a felony if a health care provider “knowingly uses” gametes from a donor without a patient’s consent.
At least 50 fertility doctors in the United States have been accused of donating sperm in recent years after commercial DNA testing became more widespread.
Ms. Emmons-Boring said she was working with Colorado lawmakers on one of the nation’s first laws that would provide certain protections to children conceived as a result of fertility fraud.
For now, she said, “she has a lot of guilt” about ever having a DNA test.
“It turned so many lives upside down because I took that test,” she said.
She is also concerned that because Dr. Jones has fathered so many children in one area, some of them may be dating or getting married.
Ms. Emmons-Boring said some of her half-siblings believe that Dr. Jones may have passed on a gene for cystic fibrosis, but they can’t know for sure because he has refused to share his medical history with them.
“It would be nice,” she said, “if he showed some kind of compassion.”