March 18, 2022

A recently filed Ohio medical malpractice lawsuit alleges that in 1991, a mix-up of sperm samples at Summa Health’s Akron City Hospital during a intrauterine insemination procedure at the hospital’s IVF Center (fertility clinic) performed by Dr. Nicholas J. Spirtos, in which the husband’s genetic material was supposed to be used, resulted in the birth of a child in 1992 that was genetically unrelated to the husband. The lawsuit reportedly alleges, “But unbeknownst to Mr. or Mrs. Harvey, Defendants used a stranger’s genetic material instead. Mrs. Harvey became pregnant and Jessica was born in 1992.”

The parents and adult child only learned that she was genetically unrelated to whom she thought was her father when they purchased an DNA test kit. Shocked by the results, the parents and adult child took another home DNA test purchased from another DNA testing company and also had paternity testing performed at an independent laboratory. All DNA tests revealed that someone other than her “father” was her biological father.

A subsequent investigation found that another couple was undergoing fertility treatment at the same fertility clinic at the same time, and that the sperm sample from that man was used in the wrong intrauterine insemination procedure, which was confirmed by a paternity test. The lawsuit alleges that it is unknown what happened with the sperm sample that was supposed to be used: “Behind the closed doors of the laboratory, Mr. Harvey’s genetic material may have been combined with Mrs. Barrett’s eggs to create the embryo that was then transferred to Mrs. Barrett. Or his genetic material may have been used in another patient’s procedure, potentially resulting in the birth of a child by a third couple. Mr. Harvey’s genetic material may still be in the laboratory. Or it may have been otherwise disposed of. He may never know what became of the genetic material he entrusted to Defendants, and Plaintiffs are terrified of the potential resulting consequences.”

The Ohio fertility clinic malpractice lawsuit sets forth claims for medical malpractice, lack of informed consent, negligence, negligent hiring/training/supervision, battery, negligent misrepresentation, loss of consortium, breach of contract, bailment of genetic material, and an alternate claim of promissory estoppel. The lawsuit further seeks an investigation into and determination of what happened with the husband’s sperm sample.

The lawsuit faces a challenge due to the relevant statute of limitations, which the plaintiffs’ lawyers indicated may be challenged on constitutional grounds.

Summa Health stated in response to the lawsuit: “We are aware of an allegation that has been made claiming in 1991 a patient was artificially inseminated with the semen from a person who is not her husband. We take this allegation seriously and understand the impact this has on the family. At this point, we have not met with the family or conducted testing of our own. Given the very limited information that we have and the amount of time that has passed, it remains our hope that the attorneys representing the family will work with us to make that next step a priority.”


If you or a family member suffered harm as a result of fertility treatments in Ohio or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find an Ohio medical malpractice lawyer, or a medical malpractice lawyer in your state, who may investigate your fertility malpractice claim for you and represent you or your family member in a fertility medical malpractice case, if appropriate.

Visit our website or call us toll-free in the United States at 800-295-3959 to find medical malpractice attorneys in your state who may assist you.

Turn to us when you don’t know where to turn.