Spoiled sperm spawns class action lawsuit
Published Friday, June 25, 2010 9:06PM PDT
A B.C. man whose sperm sample was one of many destroyed in a power outage at UBC has won the right to file a class action suit against the university.
The B.C. Court of Appeal ruled Friday that Howard Lam can file a class action claim for negligence and breach of contract against UBC. That ruling overturned an earlier B.C. Supreme Court decision denying him that right.
Lam was one of 161 men who had sperm samples stored in a -130 C freezer at the UBC Andrology Lab when a circuit breaker tripped on May 24, 2002.
The freezer's alarm system was not triggered by the break, and power was cut to the freezer for some time, immobilizing the sperm.
All of the men had stored their sperm because they were undergoing medical treatments like chemotherapy that could impact their fertility.
Lam indicated in his original suit that he would be seeking damages of between $20,000 and $100,000 per claimant.
UBC has argued that the lab made all reasonable efforts to preserve the samples, and that the sperm donors signed agreements limiting the facility's liability.
The university has joined several third parties to the lawsuit, including the company that manufactured the freezer and the security company that monitored the freezer's alarm system.