More families join suit against doctor

New allegations against Dr. Paul Jones have been made in Mesa County Court with as many as six families now named in a lawsuit against the longtime Grand Junction physician.

The civil suit, originally filed at the end of October, added several families in an amended complaint filed this month in which a jury trial is requested.

In each of the individual families' cases, the lawsuit alleges Jones performed artificial insemination on the matriarch sometime between 1975 and 1990, and sometime later it was discovered Jones was the biological father of the children the procedure produced.

The families in the lawsuit tell differing stories with common threads regarding how they feel they were deceived by Jones in the artificial insemination process. Each family claims they were shocked to learn Jones was the father.

One such account involves a 26-year-old Grand Valley resident returning home from military service in Iraq. That plaintiff, who was among those recently added to the suit, was experiencing heart complications and wanted to know more about her family's health history. She knew she was conceived using artificial insemination, and her mother reached out to Women's Health Care of Western Colorado, according to the lawsuit.

Her mother received a letter from Women's Health Care and Dr. Paul Jones on March 24, 2005, which, according to the lawsuit, reads:

"I do not have any records of who the donor was for your daughter; however, I can tell you that the donors were carefully screened and had no history of family illnesses. They were usually of European descent. Because they were usually residents in the Family Practice program, they have moved on, and I have had no further contact with them.  P.S. She's beautiful."

Nearly 12 years later, the daughter submitted a DNA sample to Ancestry.com and in January 2018 one of her half-sisters, also a named plaintiff in the lawsuit, reached out.

Over the next several months, more connections to other half-siblings were made, and Jones was allegedly discovered to be the father of the children, culminating in the lawsuit filed last month.

Another family living in Montrose met with Jones in 1981 and tells a similar story in the lawsuit. In their account, Jones reportedly told the family that the donor would look like the father.

The lawsuit seeks claims for relief for medical negligence, lack of informed consent, fraud, negligent misrepresentation, breach of contract, battery and extreme and outrageous conduct.

The Grand Junction doctor has surrendered his medical license, according to state records.

The increased popularity, accessibility and simplicity of DNA testing sites and their wide use has led to a number of similar lawsuits in recent years.

Doctors have been sued under similar circumstances both in the United States and abroad for similarly inseminating women with their own sperm under the pretense of using anonymous donors.

Though attorney Patrick Fitz-Gerald, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs in this case, said he believes some of the alleged conduct fits in the Colorado statute for criminal behavior, "this specific behavior is not codified" in the state Legislature and they will be pursuing a civil case at this time.

He said he has been in discussions with various Colorado lawmakers on the issue with some taking interest in it.

Three states — Indiana, Texas and California — have passed their own fertility fraud laws, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

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