Fertility clinic didn't botch paternity results, mother lied, Quebec Superior Court rules

A Quebec Superior Court judge has ruled that a mother who sued a fertility clinic for botching a paternity test actually lied to the potential fathers about the results.

Woman informed her ex-partner he was biological father despite being told there was no chance that was true

A Quebec Superior Court judge ruled a mother lied to both her ex-partner and current partner about the results of a paternity test. The child, now 6, has grown up thinking the wrong man is her father. (Keystone)

A Quebec woman lied to her former and current partners about the results of a paternity test, a Quebec Superior Court ruled earlier this week, rejecting her claim that it was the fertility clinic that botched the process. 

In a judgment made public Wednesday, Justice François P. Duprat found the woman told her ex-partner he was the biological father despite being told by a laboratory director at the clinic there was no chance that was the case.

"For reasons that are hers alone, and perhaps because this woman thought [her ex] would be a better father, she decided to hide the truth" from him and her partner, Duprat said in his judgment. 

The woman and her current partner, who is the child's biological father, were seeking $292,000 in damages from the OVO fertility clinic. Not only will they receive nothing, but they will now have to pay the clinic's legal fees.

The ex-partner was listed as a third-party intervener in the lawsuit.

The statement of claim was filed last year. In it, the couple said the child, a girl, is caught between two fathers and has suffered as a result of the saga.

CBC News is withholding the names of the family members to protect the identity of the child.

The context

The woman became pregnant in August, 2010. She had recently broken up with her partner and started seeing someone else.

Uncertain about which man was the father, she and her ex went to the clinic to have a paternity test done.

The lawsuit alleges Dominique Bérubé, who works at the clinic, called the mother with the results. The mother says she was told that "the man who was with you, he's the father of the child."

The mother said she had been waiting to get a written copy of the results, but they never arrived.

​The girl was born in 2011. She took the last name of her mother's ex-partner, and he was identified on the girl's birth certificate as her biological father.

The woman and her daughter lived with her new partner. He was considered the girl's stepfather.

The twist

In the statement of claim, the woman said that as her daughter grew she bore a striking resemblance to her supposed stepfather.

The woman claimed she only found out in December 2013 from the clinic that the girl's stepfather was, in fact, her biological father. That is also when she received a written copy of the test results.

But Bérubé, the clinic's laboratory director, had a different account of what happened. She told the court she read the woman the results over the phone twice, and offered to send her the results by email but the woman declined.

According to Bérubé, that is the clinic's standard procedure. The conclusion of the test says "the possibility that [her ex] is the father of this fetus is null."

In his judgement, Duprat pointed out Bérubé answered questions categorically and without hesitation, and produced notes from the woman's file that corroborate her version of events.

"The risk of error is almost non-existent since the result cannot be clearer," he said.

Duprat also said he found it surprising that she only sent the clinic a legal letter two years after supposedly finding out the man she thought was her child's stepfather was in fact the biological father.

Who is at fault?

Duprat decided Bérubé was more credible, that the mother had lied, and rejected the couple's lawsuit.

But the ex-partner told Radio-Canada that despite the judge's decision, he doesn't know who to believe.

He said he is happy the courts recognized the clinic's error, but is disappointed with the conclusion.

He is still raising the girl, who is now 6, as though she is his biological child, and is fighting for sole custody.

"It's really, really the worst battle of my life," he said.

"People say she looks like me. Not everyone knows the truth."

Renée Cardinal, the clinic's director of operations, says the decision shows customers can have confidence in their services.

Johara Obaïd, the lawyer for the child's biological parents, did not return Radio-Canada's request for comment.

With files from Radio-Canada's Geneviève Garon