Lawyers say sperm case with local ties is unprecedented - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Lawyers say sperm case with local ties is unprecedented

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CALCASIEU PARISH, LA (KPLC) -

Sulphur's Layne Hardin is suing his ex-girlfriend Tobie Devall in a Texas court, alleging she inseminated herself with his sperm from a Houston-area sperm bank without his permission.

Hardin's attorney, Cade Bernsen, said his client was made aware of the situation when he received a call from Devall a few years ago telling him she was pregnant with his child. That child, a boy, is now 2-years-old.  

Bernsen said Hardin donated his sperm to the Fertility Specialists of Houston, also named in court documents as Obstetrical and Gynecological Associates, PLLC and Texas Andrology Services, LLC, over 10 years ago while dating Katherine LeBlanc, the mother of his now 12-year-old son. According to Bernsen, he donated the sperm in case she ever wanted to have another child. 

Hardin and LeBlanc split years later, after which he began dating Devall. 

Hardin claims he and Devall were not together and she did not have permission when she went to the sperm bank and asked to be inseminated using his sperm.

Bernsen said the case is "bizarre" and has the potential to create legislation in Texas that better protects sperm donation. They are suing for emotional and punitive damages. 

According to court documents, Devall is countersuing, claiming she and Hardin were together and planning to have a baby. She's being represented by Newman, Hoffoss and Devall, LLP in Lake Charles. They released this statement: 

"This case involves the life of one innocent child. Soon, 12 Men and women will see all of the evidence and make a decision based upon the true facts of the case. It is not fair to the family, nor the justice system, to try this case in the media. The truth will come out at trial and will be reflected in the Jury's verdict. We are looking forward to allowing our Jury system to work and hope you will be there when the jury verdict is read." 

As bizarre the case, it does raise eyebrows on the idea of paternity when dealing with sperm donation. If Hardin's claims are correct and he didn't give the permission, should he be legally responsible for the child in the event he's ever asked to be? While family law is not federal law and varies from state to state, lawyers in both Texas and Louisiana agree, this case, whatever the ruling, will set precedent.

Josh Monroe is a local attorney who studies family law. He said this case has complexities outside of standards of family law. 

"This case is novel ... it is new, it is uncharted waters. This is a trend setting case," he said.  

Making the outcome difficult to predict in this ring of "he said, she said." 

"It really comes down to credibility and intent," said Monroe. "Whoever the judge or jury chooses to believe in regard to intent." 

The case has not yet gone to trial. 

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