A woman from Washington state files a lawsuit against an OB-gynecologist and an Idaho obstetrics clinic after learning from a DNA test that her biological father is her mother's fertility doctor.
Kelli Rowlette, 36, took a DNA test sponsored by Ancestry.com, a genealogy website, in the hopes to retrace her family's lineage. She learned that Dr. Gerald Mortimer, who once worked with her parents, impregnated her mother with his own sperm without prior consent.
Rowlette, a former eastern Idaho woman is now suing Mortimer, his wife Linda McKinnon Mortimer, and the Obstetrics and Gynecology Associates of Idaho Falls for $10 million worth of damages on the grounds of medical negligence, fraud, and battery among other charges.
Victims Of Circumstance
In her complaint, Rowlette detailed that her parents were having difficulty conceiving years prior to her birth. Sally Ashby and Howard Fowler sought the professional help of Mortimer who diagnosed Ashby with a retroverted uterus and Fowler with low sperm count and sperm motility.
The documents filed at the Idaho District Court showed that Mortimer advised the couple to undergo artificial insemination, which was supposed to contain 85 percent of Fowler's specimen and 15 percent from a donor.
Ashby specifically requested that the donor should be a college student who looks like her husband. Rowlette argued that had her parents known that the donor was Mortimer, they would not have pursued the procedure.
Later in August 1980, Ashby became pregnant with their daughter and gave birth in May 1981. Meanwhile, Mortimer remained Ashby's OB-GYNE for a couple more years before the family moved to Washington.
The lawsuit reported that Mortimer was emotional upon hearing the news of Ashby transferring to a new residence.
The results of Rowlette's ancestry test became all the more confusing because she did not know the facts about her parents' fertility struggles. She then contacted her mother and expressed disappointment about the "unreliability of the service." However, Ashby recognized the name of the doctor.
"Ms. Ashby contacted Mr. Fowler, now her ex-husband, and relayed the information she obtained from Ancestry.com. Mr. Fowler was also devastated by the news," the lawsuit reads as relayed by Washington Post.
Reports also indicated that the parents had a hard time deliberating whether they should tell Rowlette about their past or not.
Meanwhile, Ancestry.com recognized that there are unprecedented pieces of information that can come out of their clients' DNA tests. However, the website maintains accuracy, integrity, and safety of their members' data.
"You may discover unanticipated facts about yourself or your family when using our services. While we strive to give you control as you use the Services, once discoveries are made, we can't undo it," Ancestry.com states on its website.