Proposed class action against former Ottawa fertility doc grows

A former Ottawa fertility doctor at the heart of a class action lawsuit is facing new accusations.

The law firm Nelligan O’Brien Payne filed a statement of claim in November 2016, alleging Dr. Norman Barwin used his own sperm, and not those of the requested donors, to inseminate at least two women who used his services at the Broadview Fertility Clinic.

Now, the firm claims they’ve spoken with over 150 people who have used Barwin’s services, some dating back as far as 1978, when he worked at the Ottawa General Hospital’s fertility clinic. In a press release from the law firm, it is alleged there are nine more cases in which Barwin has been identified, through DNA testing, as the biological father of children who should have been conceived using either the male of the couple’s sperm, or the sperm of an anonymous donor.

The firm also claims that they have identified 51 people whose DNA does not match the man intended to be their father. In 16 cases, the male parent requested his own sperm be used, but it was not. In 35 cases, specific anonymous donor sperm was requested, but the individuals may not be a biological match with the intended donor.

In all of these cases, the actual biological father of each person is unknown.

Nelligan O’Brien Payne also claims there are cases in which sperm stored with Barwin and transferred to other clinics was contaminated with another man’s sperm.

The firm has also been in touch with men who have stored their sperm with Barwin and are concerned that it may have been used to conceive children they don’t know about.

Nelligan O’Brien Payne says they are in the process of amending the statement of claim to include these new developments. None of the allegations against Dr. Barwin have been proven or tested in court and a judge has not yet officially certified the claim as a class action.

Barwin is no longer practicing, having resigned his license in 2014. He is also no longer a member of the Order of Canada, a distinction he had been awarded in 1997. In 2013, his license was suspended for two months after admitting to professional misconduct when three women were artificially inseminated with the wrong sperm.